Spit out a few household name’s in long distance athletic’s. There won’t be an ultra runner among them, but if your on the search for inspirational sportspeople you could be in the right place.
Far from the madding crowd’s of high profile hero’s, there dwell’s a low profile community of long distance runner’s to which the marathon distance is run of the mill stuff. Ultra running is a sport that has grown considerably in recent year’s but it’s popularity doesn’t register when compared with the marathon, for 99.9% of runner’s that’s where the buck stops. Anything longer than a marathon is put neatly away in the ‘Ultra’ box, an obvious progression for the few who want to keep going after the 26.2 mile’s. The motivation’s vary and the material rewards are few. Running for the hell of it and because it is primarily what we were designed to do.
Mick Rice, Thomas Budendorfer, Ruthann Sheehan? These are some of the star’s on the Irish scene. Veteran’s of a multitude of long distance competition’s, all living the normal life when they’re not wearing running shoe’s. Close on their heal’s is Fermoy based Pole Maciej Sawicki.
It’s not easy to mistake the man on his training run’s around the area, accompanied by his trusty labrador cross ‘Pepe’, A rescued dog who overcame his fear of human’s developed from his time with a previous owner, give’s a good indication of the favourable environment where he now reside’s. His master, a natural joker and a natural gent, it’s easy to see how he has picked up a few more runner’s to join him on his long weekend run’s, normally covering between 25 and 30 mile’s.
|Still smiling approaching the finish line in last year's Connemara 100|
Over the last five year’s the trip to Clifden in the second week of August has become a tradition for Maciej, his wife and whoever else is willing to crew. This year is no different. Attracted to the area by it’s beauty as much as the race, he first ran the Connemarathon 39 mile ultra from Maam cross five year’s ago and decided to line up for the 100 mile at Clifden after being notified by email three months beforehand by race organiser Ray O Connor. After confirming that the email was not for next year’s race, he signed up. Three month’s later he completed his first 100, got in the car and drove the four hour trip home. The start of a love affair with the race and west Connemara.
The Connemara 100 mile road race is Ireland’s longest ultra marathon and generally has a start list of no more than 25 hardened soul’s. A four time veteran of the race, A subtle confidence give’s the notion that he is hoping to break the 17hr mark this year. “I came close last year with 17.07, this year I don’t have the same mileage put in, but I’m fresher”. Cautiously approaching the race, he has learnt a few lesson’s over the last few year’s, “Too many mile’s last year meant I suffered after the event and had to lay off for a few month’s, possibly due to overtraining on the lead up”. “This year my longest run was 30 mile’s in training, I’v just finished my last hard block of training last week, which left me tired but now I’m starting to feel good about it.”