A combination of his mother’s Christmas pudding and only five hours of sleep were the ingredients for Eoin Keith to smash the record for running the length of Ireland,.
The ultrarunner from Cobh broke the Mizen-to-Malin Head record by a phenomenal 12 hours, completing the 550km trek in three days, three hours and 47 minutes.
He adds that achievement to his collection of Irish records, from 24-hour to six-day running, and says his body is adapted to needing very little food to fuel his long-distance endeavours.
“I ate very little,” said Keith. “The summary would be two rice puddings, a little bit of Christmas pudding that I picked up from my mother’s house on the way down to the start, exactly three batches of three fruit pastilles, a piece of melon and two chocolate bars.
“That was it for the entire thing. The rest was just drinking.”
Keith insisted that he felt “surprisingly nicely rested” after the run, completed over the Bank Holiday weekend, despite being extremely sleep deprived.
“I hopped into the van (driven by his support crew of adventure-racing teammates Richard Nunan and Taryn McCoy) for a ten-minute power nap twice, on the first and second days, and apart from that I ran non-stop until sunset on the second night, which was more than 36 hours in. Just above Athlone was where I first slept for two hours.
“I’d one or two more power naps before the next sleep, the following sunset, for another two hours. One more power nap and that was it. I’d a grand total of under five hours sleep for the entire thing.”
Considering the distance, the low points were relatively minor. He lost a little time when wandering off route in Bantry and Kanturk, and escaped a potentially disastrous fall near Athlone with a grazed knee.
The trickiest moment came when the support van got a puncture near Enniskillen, as the heat began to get to Keith along the busy but narrow main road.
He had a five-minute lie-down on the grass while Nunan followed on a bike carrying water bottles.
Having previously demolished the record for the Spine Race, a 431km winter trek from coast-to-coast across England’s Pennine Way, by 15 hours in January 2016, Keith regards his Mizen-to-Malin run as his greatest achievement.
“Up until now I’d have trouble picking out what my best run was, because various things seem good for different reasons, but this one has to be my best as everything went so well.
“It was quite remarkable running up towards the finish that I didn’t even have any pain. I didn’t even have sore feet, which would’ve been expected. I didn’t have to manage pain at all, apart from going to sleep.
“I was running with no complications, no injuries, no slipping, and that’s quite remarkable. That hasn’t happened over that kind of distance for me before.
“I felt absolutely fantastic! It was really great. I’ve never been to the Inishowen Peninsula before and it was blue skies, blazing sunshine, the temperature was nearly perfect for running, the wind was behind us – everything was perfect and I was going to break to the record, and break it well. I was ecstatic and delighted getting there.”