A 31-YEAR-OLD tyre fitter is to swap his work overalls for a green singlet when he represents Ireland for the first time in an ultra marathon of 100km next month.
It is a remarkable turnaround for Keith Whyte who only ran his first competitive race three years ago in a 10k run in Ennis.
Ahead of the event in Perth, Scotland on March 27, the married father-of-two confessed yesterday: “I never had any interest in running until the summer of 2007 and then I caught the bug.”
Since then, Keith hasn’t stopped running, clocking a best of 2hrs 38mins in October’s Dublin City Marathon that resulted in him qualifying for the five strong Irish team.
However, in preparation for the Anglo Celtic Plate next month, Keith has ran several marathons by himself.
“I’m not just going to make up the numbers. The easy thing would be to sit back now that I’ve got the call up, but I want to be as competitive as I can. I will train very hard between now and then to make sure I can give the more established guys a run for their money.”
An employee at Pat Foudy’s Tyre Centre in Ennis for the past 11 years, Keith first started running with a local group of charity runners, the Clare Crusaders in 2007.
Crusader Pat Bogue recalls that at that first run in 2007, “we gasped to each other about how tough it was and that maybe we were not cut out to be runners. Keith nodded to me to keep going as he had not got the pace”.
Pat added: “The selection onto an Irish team is a tremendous personal achievement for Keith. It proves that dreams can come true and that the training does pay off. Keith is an inspiration to those of us who run together in the name of the Clare Crusaders.”
Keith said in preparation, he is running 190km per week.
A heavy smoker until five years ago, Keith said: “My training consists of running between 15-20 miles per day and maybe 35-40 miles on a Saturday or Sunday. In order to achieve such high weekly mileage I need to train twice a day most days. I hope to reach 140 miles per week at peak training.”
He added that his longest training run in the lead-up to the race will be 72km and he plans to run two at that distance before the end of this month.
Keith said that his aim for the race is to impress the Irish team selectors and achieve the qualifying standard for the world championship of 7hrs 30 minutes.
Keith said: “It will be massive for me to represent Ireland. Some friends think I’m crazy to be running such a distance but any athlete will tell you that they’d run 1,000 miles if it meant they’d get the chance to run for their country, and I’m no different.
“At the moment I’m just focused on this particular race. I am new to the world of ultra running but what I have noticed during my long runs is that to be a successful ultra runner you need to be mentally very tough.”
He added: “The body is able to withstand enormous stress but the mind is a different animal. The one thing that drives me on is a hunger to succeed and to see how far I can actually go if I train hard and look after my body.”
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