Diana Hogan-Murphy, 37, from St Luke’s in Cork but based in Cavan, admitted it was “the biggest surprise of my life” to qualify for the event in Kona, Hawaii, in October after finishing second in her age group at the Ironman UK qualifying event in Bolton last weekend. Just 50 out of the 2,000 competitors (2.5%) made the grade.
While for most people, even finishing a marathon or a triathlon is a lifetime achievement, Diana operates at an altogether different level.
For example, an Ironman event consists of a 2.4-mile (3.86km) swim; a 112-mile (180.25km) bicycle ride; and a marathon 26.2-mile (42.2km) run, raced in that order and without a break. And that’s not even the toughest thing the Cork woman has ever done.
It all started in 2004, when Diana ran her first marathon in Dublin. A chance encounter with a documentary about the Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert eventually turned her into an endurance race nut.
“I saw a documentary on the Marathon des Sables and I just thought these guys are crazy and then I said I’d give it a go so I did. I sort of got addicted from there but I don’t overtrain. The most I’ve ever trained is for about 10 to 12 weeks before the event. The most marathons I’ve done in one year is 14,” she said.
However, despite being the first person in the world to complete an extreme multi-day self-sufficient 250km running race on all seven continents — Antarctica (1st place), Gobi Desert (1st place), Atacama Desert (3rd place), The Kimberly’s Australia (1st place age group) Sahara Desert, TransAlpine and Desert RATS from Utah to Colorado in the states (4th place), Diana admitted she was over the moon to qualify for the Ironman World Championships.
“It was the biggest surprise of my life. I’ve won a few things in my life. It is everyone’s dream to get to Kona so I am thrilled. Six of us went over to the UK and I was hoping to beat four of them, which I did but to find out that I had qualified was amazing,” she said.
However, if you think Diana is just going to train for Hawaii in October, you’d be wrong. Next month, she is taking part in the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc — a 168km one stage running race through the Alps with a cut-off of 46 hours and a climb of 9,600 metres, the hardest event she’s ever participated in. “It’s my fourth time taking part in it and I have gotten through it once. You don’t sleep and you don’t stop.
“After about 35 hours, you start hallucinating, but you know you are hallucinating so it’s all a bit of fun,” she said.