Dozens of athletes faced a remarkable test of mind-over-matter when they set out to run more than double the distance of a full marathon in one fell swoop.
One veteran runner described having to fight through walls of pain to complete the colossal 101km (63-mile) run from Belfast along the north Down coast and back, in a feat aimed at commemorating the 101st anniversary of Titanic’s sinking.
Described as an ‘ultra-marathon’, it was billed as Northern Ireland’s longest road run and saw an estimated 50 participants set off on the route at around 6am yesterday.
Among them was the fearless Peter Ferris, 57, from Coleraine, who recently made the news after completing 10 marathons in 10 days at Stormont.
Speaking yesterday, he said he had barely slept the night before; going to bed at 10pm and waking up at 2am.
“Pre-marathon nerves,” Peter said, adding: “I’ll sleep tonight, right enough.”
He completed the challenge in around 11 hours, 50 minutes.
“That’s brutal today,” he said. “A lot of concrete – it just shatters your legs.
“It is extreme. If you’re not fit, it could kill you. Your heart could give out. I’ve been branded mad a few times. It’s just something I love doing. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke. I just love running.”
Asked about how he copes with what many athletes describe as a wall of exhaustion which kicks in on extreme runs, he said: “I would say there’s little doors in the walls. You get barriers of pain.
“Then if you keep pushing the body, the pain disappears.”