Our Running Stories: Ryan

Energia 24 hr Race including Irish 24 hr Championship

24 Hour race! Yes a scary thought which I never imagined myself competing in. That was until I joined Ballymena runners several years ago where I made 2 great friends in Jim Moore and Robin Alexander both experienced marathon runners and 24hr competitors, the seed was sown. So in 2014 I entered my first 24hr race which was at the Mary Peters track Belfast. Using the knowledge passed down to me by Jim and Robin I completed 96 miles in 22hrs before having to pull out with badly swollen ankles falling short of the illusive 100 mile goal, so no jacket for me. I did learn a lot about the race and myself but said never again until the next morning when I decided to complete the task and get a 100 mile club jacket . The next year (2015) also at the Mary Peters track Belfast I put the lessons learnt into practice and not only got my jacket but also the club record at 106.5 miles.

In 2016 the new venue was Victoria park Belfast, a dummy run for the world 24hr championships in 2017. I was getting very ambitious with a goal of 120 miles. I started the race knowing a calf injury would probable reappear from 2 weeks earlier which it did after only 10 miles completed. I lost 1hr in the physio tent getting calf worked on and strapped up which helped a bit. After reaching 26.2 miles I knew I had completed my 49th marathon so struggled with the idea of pulling out. I had around 19hrs left to get over the club record. Anything between the 26.2 and 106.5 would be a disappointment. I struggled on until around 96 miles both knees started to complain a bit - the spring in the legs had gone. It was very hard to run but time was running out so had to push myself managing to get over club record with 10 minutes to go. It was not the goal I started with but felt after the injuries, I had achieved more in myself. So I got another jacket and a new club record of 107.4 miles and yes the next morning after saying never again I started planning for next year at the 24hr world championships Belfast .

I surprise myself each year with this event which I would not have started only for Jim and Robin and would not have done as well only for my support crew namely my wife Margaret thanks to them all. (I did promise Margaret a camping trip - don't think this is what she was expecting!)

My advice to anyone considering this event or similar is to have a go push yourself. In this event the time is 24hrs but the distance is set by you - by your goals. The hardest thing is slow paced running - just nip away at the miles and amaze yourself. Try something new xc, track, trails or marathon its all running mix it up and enjoy .

Ryan Armstrong