Monday, April 26, 2010

How would you fancy spending a week running through the Sahara Desert, averaging at least a marathon a day? While carrying all of your own food on your back?

Or maybe you prefer running on a safe, flat athletics track. But instead of doing 200 or 400m how would you feel about keeping going not for a distance but for a full 24 hours?

Perhaps you like to mix your sports a bit? Maybe before doing a marathon you’d like to do a bit of a swim and a cycle first? Maybe a 3800m open water swim and the small matter of a 180km bike ride then your full 26.2 mile marathon? They call them “IronMan” Triathlons for a reason!

Joanne Ui Chrualaoich has done all of this and more – 41 standard marathons, 11 ultra marathons and 5 of those Ironman triathlons. The Sahara Race? That was the Marathon de Sables, often referred to as the “worlds toughest footrace”. That 24 hours on a track was the St. Maixent 24 hour race in France. And she’s not just a finisher, she is very much a competitor; for example she was first lady and second overall in the inaugural Connemara 100 mile race in 2009 and is the third fastest Irishwoman ever over the Ironman distance.

So what does someone like that do for a challenge?

Well how about attempting to do what no other woman has done before? Like running the entire length of the country? To make it harder doing it against the prevailing winds, starting in Malin Head in the very northern tip of Donegal and ending in Mizen Head at the extreme south and hoping for a record time in the process.

37 years old and working as a Programme Manager in Food & Nutritional Science for UCC; she recently married fellow endurance athlete and fire fighter Niall O Crualaoich. A native of Dundalk but now living in the Peoples Republic (!) of Cork. Well connected in running circles, a contributor to, technical delegate, referee for triathlon, a race director and qualified coach Jo tries to give back as much as possible to the sports she’s involved in.

Jo will start the run from Malin, Co. Donegal at first light on the morning of 21 May 2010. Her long and winding route will take her through Derry, Enniskillen, Longford, Athlone, Nenagh, Limerick, Charleville, Dunmanway and right to the tip of Mizen Head, Co. Cork. She will run approximately 350 miles and hopes to have the run completed in just over 5 days which will be a grueling 70 miles per day! That’s just under three marathons a day, every day, for a working week…
The Carers Association has been overwhelmed by the positivity and support offered by people all over the country. One of the first to offer sponsorship for this event was Gerard Kirwan of Pearl Izumi, who will be providing all of Jo’s running wear and running shoes for the event. Hot on their heels were Shannon company Vanderlust who were swift to offer a huge and luxurious campervan which will be used for the run to act as accommodation and base camp for Jo and her support crew..
But we are obviously looking for further sponsorship! Both of practical items as well as funds which is what the run is all about.
The Carers Association hopes to raise a significant amount of money from Jo’s run which will be used to provide much needed respite for some of the people who most need it. It’s easy to focus on our own difficulties and hardships but there are people who offer 24 hour a day support 7 days a week and the help of the funds raised from events like this we can help bring some relief to them. Ideally we want people sponsoring her along the way, Carers coming out to support her en route and all of us working together helping to raise the money to help.
This is an amazing challenge to undertake and we are delighted and honoured that Jo would do it on our behalf and we want to maximize on her support as much as possible.

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