The annual 200 KM gruelling Kerry Way Ultra Marathon – a daunting 40 hour, 200km, non stop Ultra Marathon, began at the official starting point at Randles Garage Killarney on Friday morning at 6.00am. The endurance race traverses the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and Iveragh Peninsula, stretching along The Wild Atlantic Way, along ancient trails and old roads and coastal cliffs. Race Director Eileen Daly saw off the 70 Elite runners at dawn. Breaking all known records since the races inception was Barry Hartnett from Kilshane, Tipperary, who ran the race in an incredible time of 22 Hours and 36 minutes, knocking over two hours of the previous records. Second home was Killarney Native, Sean Clifford from Woodlawn in another blistering time of 27 hours and 18 minutes. The First Woman Home was another record breaker, Carol Morgan, who also finished 4th overall in a time of 27 Hours and 58 minutes. Barry Mullins from Cork was third in a time of 27 hours and 33 minutes. Another Killarney man Kevin Leahy, finished 5th in 28 Hours and 52 minutes. Two Kerryman in the top five!
Their epic journey of The Kerry Way, which was closely tracked online manned by Sarah Clinton, Portwest Sports, saw over 75,000 people from across the globe watch the racers progress, as they continued along the Killarney National Park, Black Valley onto the mountains of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, bogs, ancient trails, through, Mountain Stage, Dromid, Waterville, Caherdaniel, Sneem and Blackwater, Templenoe, Kenmare, onto the Old Kenmare Road, before arriving home to Killarney. Conditions for the race were at times testing as the amount of rainfall made the terrain difficult.
The Kerry Way Ultra Lite Marathon 55Km, the second race departed at Sneem Village on Saturday morning and continuing the route of The Kerry Way, through Templenoe, Kenmare town, before joining the ancient ‘old road to Kenmare’ track back to Killarney National Park. Mark Doyle was first home in a time of 5 hours and 44 minutes, followed very closely by Barry Brennan in a time of 5 hours and 45 seconds. Greeta Soderholm was First women home in a time of 6 hours and 41 seconds.
Race Director, Eileen Daly, addressed the gathering of racers and support crews at the sunday brunch at the Randles Hotel, “Just when you think humans can’t go any faster, along come Barry Hartnett and Carol Morgan and blow all records out of the water. The Athletes in both the Kerry Way Ultra and The new Ultra Lite have achieved so much, when you think of the vastness of the course, the weather, terrain during Kerry’s code orange. I never underestimate the determination of the runners, marshals, volunteers, and kindness of The Kerry Way Landowners. My own back up team worked tirelessly over the weekend. Both marathons reached a phenomenal 75,000 people, viewers who engaged with our live tracking on our Facebook page.”
The Athletes had their own support crews at various junctions along the route, so the craic and camaraderie provided a great source of entertainment, especially during the night watch. The transition point of Sneem, Athletes from Kerry, Ireland, United Kingdom, USA, and many parts of Europe, endured the most challenging of ultra marathons in Ireland. The Kerry Way Ultra Marathon was awarded 4 points by the prestigious Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) which is a testament to the severity of the race.
Kerry Way Ultra Marathon
1. Barry Hartnett 22:36:27* New Record
2. Sean Clifford. 27:18:28
3. Brian Mullins 27:33:16
1. Carol Morgan 27:58:22 * New Record
2. Suzanna Bon 31:32:10
3. Simone Durry 33:40:35
Kerry Way Ultra Lite
1. Mark Doyle 5:44:18 *New Record
2. Barry Drennan 5:45:10
3. Brian Buckley 6:32:26
1. Greeta Soderholm 6:41:49 *New Record
2 Joanna Edwards 6:51:43
3. Lorraine Horan 6:56:47