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'Rich' reward for 50-mile challenge Omagh Harrier

Thursday, 15 June 2017

'Rich' reward for 50-mile challenge Omagh Harrier thumbnailOmagh man, Richard Shannon, won the Moylagh JFK 50 Mile Challenge race in Co. Meath, completing the huge run in a time of eight hours and 24 minutes.

AN Omagh man was the first runner to cross the finish line in an extreme endurance run that spanned over 50 miles and three counties at the weekend.

Richard Shannon won the Moylagh JFK 50 Mile Challenge race in Co. Meath on Saturday, completing the huge run in a time of eight hours and 24 minutes.

A total of 770 people entered the race, with just 256 managing to complete the entire 50 miles. Richard, a member of Omagh Harriers, was the first competitor home, and he was chuffed with his achievement.

"It was all good fun," he said. "My goal was just to finish, and everything after that is a bonus. I set off with a rough time in my head, and I wanted to finish it in between nine and ten hours."

This was Richard's first time taking part in the event, which is held in aid of the Irish Cancer Society. The 50-mile circuit is mostly over road terrain, with a section going through Mullaghmeen Forest. The huge route spans three counties, beginning in Meath, and taking in parts of Cavan and Westmeath before finishing back in Meath again.

Setting off at 6am, Richard got off to a great start and established a position in the top ten early on. "I was picking people off as I went along, and then someone said to me I was in second place. I didn't see the person ahead of me at any stage so I thought they were never going to be caught."

He came to the Westmeath village of Fore with about nine miles to go, where the leader, Donna McLaughlin from Achill Island, had stopped for a toilet break. "I waited there at that point and then we both went on to the end. With three miles to go, she was breathing down my neck, quite literally. The last two miles were my quickest two miles of the day!"

Richard is no stranger to extreme endurance running, having done back-to-back marathons in Co. Mayo in the past, and also running 100 miles in a 'last man standing' event in February of this year. He also completed the Causeway Coast Ultra Marathon last year in a time of seven hours and 11 minutes.

"My strategy was to walk the hills and stop every two hours to take on food and fluids. I wore a backpack with food and water in it, which is key.

"I have to say though the hospitality around the course was unbelievable. There were people outside their houses on the roadside cheering you on and offering water."

With the remarkable, exhausting feat completed, Richard was back home in Omagh recovering with "a few long walks with the dog."

"I just quietly like to get on with these things, but it is very humbling when you get a wee bit of attention. When your out pounding the roads on your own a lot, nobody knows what you're doing. Are you keeping fit or are you wrecking yourself? joked Richard. "It is nice though to get a wee lift every now and again."

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