Rainbows & Running at Run the Kingdom’s 24 Hour Ultra in Tralee

24 Hour Run in Ireland.jpg

Feic the Rose of Tralee. This is better. The Rose of Tralee is just a bunch of well groomed women that say all the right things, and sure nobody could be as nice as all that, could they?

By “this” I mean Run The Kingdom’s inaugural 24 hour ultra distance marathon where participants will run as far as they can, or wish, from 12 noon on Saturday to 12 noon on Sunday around a .75mile loop in Tralee Town Park. There are also 6 hour and 12 hour participants who aren’t brave or foolhardy enough to do the entire 24. (Pics here).

My mind is preoccupied with rainbows as I arrive in Tralee. I’m thinking how all energy comes from sunlight and when you break it down, it is a spectrum of colour, like a rainbow, and so I decided to present today’s photos in the colours of the rainbow, just because it appeals to me.

Light is a blend of colour in the same way that a day is 24 hours and made up of minutes, hours, and an impossible-to-imagine infinity of happenings, throughout the universe, within that timeframe. Perhaps colour is also infinite. Perhaps even the individual is even infinite and, if you could view their tinniest parts you might see that a body is comprised of an infinity of worlds within worlds that go on forever. Perhaps the singularity of the individual, like light, is a mere illusion, and if you were to view it through a raindrop-like prism it would exist merely as a marvellous spectrum of colours.

I’ve started to get to know many of the Rainbow Warriors (they don’t call themselves that, I just made it up) and they me. Two of those are Donna and Michael who are comrades-in-running who seem to be on an eternal mission to push their bodies to the absolute extremes of possibility,while being delightfully partial to dramatic performances while they are at it. They both clocked close to 100 miles over the race.

Donna Mc Loughlin Michael Mc Enery.jpg

Several other 24 hour runners amazed me with their smiles as much as their performances and smiled as relentlessly as they ran as part of the 24 hour event. The man who clocked the second most miles, Fozzy Forristal, below, who ran 120 miles in the 24 hour period, is a prime example of this. I suspect he may have done at least 10% more miles if he didn’t put so much energy into exuding joy.


The man and woman who clocked the most miles were Darren Sheridan at 130.5 miles and Paula Wright at 107.25. Their faces consistently expressed pure focus and raw determination. One could be forgiven for thinking that such people never smile, but when one sees them at the finish line their faces always light up in the brightest smiles you could ever see.

Paula Wright and Darren Sherida.jpg

Throughout day and subsequent night, the Rainbow Warriors go around, and around, and around the park.


In the morning is when the real suffering starts. Many runners are reduced to walking and even hobbling but relentlessly keep moving forward. Emotions have become delicate, facial expressions have become pained, and some decide they can’t keep going, and then push themselves through a few more laps anyway and it’s fascinating to watch the battle of wills between their bodies’ lust for rest and their mind’s will to keep moving forward. Fascinatingly, one very drained looking lady gasps, “Ohhh, I’d love to make love to my bed.”

One of the spectators that arrives in the morning is a very fit and healthy looking man called Tiger who I have photographed running at multiple marathons in the last month or so and so I seize the opportunity to ask him about his diet and training, as I believe one can learn a lot from such folks.

“I eat anything at all, really. And I smoke as well,” he says, and I am gobsmacked by the latter.

“How much do you smoke?” I enquire.

“About 25 a day,” he says, and proceeds to take out a pouch of tobacco and roll a cigarette and it is only then I notice his nicotine stained fingers.


Many runners come to a emotional, hobbled halt in the closing hours and minutes of the run, with others running, like the lady below, relentlessly right up to the very last minute.

Liz Leonard Runner.JPG

Feeling energised on departure, I start to think that running is a kind of religion and ultra runners are its devoted disciples, the colour spectrum is literally at its foundation, and its Bible is inexplicably hard-coded into the DNA of all those that chose to run throughout 24 hours at Run the Kingdom’s inaugural event.


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