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  • Writer's picturePatrick Carroll

Ultramarathon Review - Kerry Way Ultra Lite

Updated: May 8, 2023

I completed my first ultramarathon on September 4th 2021. The route was 58km from Sneem to Killarney in Kerry, Ireland.

Questions from friends afterwards helped to formulate my thoughts.

Q1) How did it go?

A1) On paper it went well. I finished 13th out of about 200 runners. In reality it didn’t feel like it went well at all. The last third of the race was horrendous, I was cramping regularly and walking bits I definitely expected to be running.

Q2) Did you enjoy it?

A2) Some bits. Sneem to Kenmare went well. I ran with my friend and we managed our pace, hydration and fuelling well. More importantly the route was absolutely class. Dry trails and beautiful scenery make for really enjoyable running.

I don’t think I can say I enjoyed much of the Kenmare to Killarney section. The climb out of Kenmare is about 5km…my legs were pretty fried after that. Muscle cramps are definitely not enjoyable!

Q3) It must feel like a great achievement?

A3) I’m not sure about this one. I’m glad I did it but I don’t necessarily think distance covered automatically equals a big achievement. This is purely a personal opinion. I have huge respect for anyone who takes on any physical challenge.

Thinking back, I feel like I got much more satisfaction from running a PB in the Hackney half marathon a few years ago.

Q4) Would you do it again?

A4) Myself and my friend swore after the race it was the most ridiculous thing we had ever done and we would never do it again!

I made a point of trying to bottle that feeling too. It’s really easy to look back on things very favourably once the moment has passed.

I wouldn’t rule it out completely but I can’t say I see myself becoming a seasoned ultramarathon runner.

I do believe it is important to set hard physical challenges. They inherently involve mental challenges and I think there are huge benefits from this.

My main question for myself is can I be just as satisfied with racing shorter distances? At the moment I think I can. Just trying to run the them faster!

*From analysing my preparation for this event there were some stand out conclusions.

  • Longer days in the mountains and moving on the trails are essential. I did a 30km and a 35km session on the trails but I don't think it was enough. More training days over the 3 hour mark woukd be included if tackling this again.

  • Pacing would be executed differently. We ran the first half of this race in the top 10 and realistically, it was way too fast. We paid a price for this with muscle cramping in the last third.

  • Training intensity would be different. When the race pace is much slower than a road race the vast majority of the training time should be quite easy. I probably included too many fast, shorter sessions. More total volume at easy paces woukd be a priority.

  • Strength work and building tissue tolerance of calves, hamstrings, adductors, quads and glutes would be a mainstay in my preparation. This would be another protective strategy for reducing the likelihood of cramping.

If this piece has stirred interest in signing up to a big challenge and highlighted the role strength work can play then you can avail of a running specific strength and conditioning programme here -

Thanks for reading,

Patrick Carroll

Running Buddy

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