The Kerry Ultra 50K - Go on, sign-up for 2019

The Kerry Ultra 50K was somehow not on my radar but luckily my wife spotted it recently. We decided to do it barely a week beforehand.

Unlike a lot of ultras over in the UK, this one was all on-road and mostly self-supported. There was a small table every 10K with water and Redbull only.

We went down to Tralee the night before to make the race briefing. Brian O’Shea went into huge detail on both the 50K and 100K which weirdly made me more stressed than if I’d known nothing.

The 16 people who did the 100K headed off at 6am whereas we had a nice relaxing lie-in and breakfast in the Ashe Hotel. 31 of us lined up at 10am amid lots of good humour and photos. After another pep talk from Brian, off we went.

As always, you’ll get no mile by mile summary from me. Basically I had a bad day. Lots of stuff hurt after a few miles and I was hot and slightly out of sorts almost from the start. But I plugged away at the back of the field and took in the fabulous views over Tralee Bay.

I’ve come tothe conclusion recently that I don’t really like long road races and much prefer the trails. My wife is the opposite. She had a good day and powered away from me early.

A very long pit-stop involving a 99 cone and Club Orange in the lovely Fenit totally re-energised me even if it took forever. Fun fact - Saint Brendan The Explorer is from Fenit and that is one impressive statue of him.

The Blennerville windmill looked as good as ever and then I hit the worst part of the route. A couple of miles of back roads to make up the 50K instead of the lovely walkway beside the river.

I kept my head down and was never so happy to see the Aquadome in Tralee. The nicest cup of tea of all time awaited me at the finish line.

I was thrilled that my wife finished her first ultra after the disappointment of Liverpool to Manchester. We hung around for a short while and cheered in a few more people. But I was feeling very ropey from the heat and we hit the road back to Bandon shortly afterwards.

Apart from probably not drinking enough fluids, I was in a good state overall later and recovered quickly over the next few days.

I’d love to see more people doing this race. Honestly, if you’ve ever done even one marathon, you’ll do this no bother. Don’t be put off by the “self-supported” aspect. Just get a cheap hydration vest in Decathlon or Wiggle, stick in a few bottles of water, some Tailwind and a few gels/sweets and you’ll be fine. The course was extremely well marked (I had Viewranger for backup) and Vincent Guthrie from MCI and the Tullaroan Marathon was checking in on people with his van in the early sections to make sure all was well.

Apart from a couple of sections, I felt quite safe with the traffic. The tight road leaving Ardfert and some of the bits after Blennerville did feel a bit dodgy with totally blind bends. But there are huge parts of it that are very quiet or very straight. And those views, seriously!

Great job by the organisers. And I’ll say it again, you should think about doing it next year. Wouldn’t you like to be able to tell people you’re an ultrarunner :-)

Conor O'Neill

Tech guy who likes running slowly

Bandon, Cork, Ireland