BY KIERAN McCARTHY
ALEX O’Shea is determined to represent Ireland at the ultra-running 24-Hour World Championships in Belfast this July.
The Ballineen father of four feels he is on track to force his way into the Irish team for these world championships that will be held in Victoria Park in east Belfast.
‘I turn 43 in April and I don’t know how long I can remain at this level for, but I am loving every minute of it and getting faster,’ O’Shea said.
‘I am hopeful of getting called up to the Irish team for the world championships and I am sure it will be amazing as this year the world’s best 24-hour athletes will gather in Belfast on July 1st.
‘It’s now up to me to perform consistently and at a high enough level to ensure selection for Ireland.
‘There is no greater honour than to represent my country at national level.’
O’Shea ran his first 24-hour event last year and has shown a huge diversity in his ultra-running; he has already represented Ireland in three distances, 50km, 100km and 24 hours.
At the 100km ultra running world championships in Spain last November, he finished seventh in his age category in a time of seven hours, 37 minutes and 16 seconds, and 55th overall. Also last year he ran in his first 24-hour event, running over 220km in that time, and he won a bronze medal in his category at the national marathon championships in Dublin, as well as a gold team medal.
At the recent Donadea 50km National Championships, earlier this month, O’Shea finished second overall to win silver in three hours, 15 minutes and eight seconds, improving last year’s time by two and a half minutes.
Married to Audrey, and with four kids (Noah, Leon, Dylan and Louisa), Alex has run 23 races of marathon distance or longer, including three events overseas, since 2014 – the year he shot to fame for setting a world record time after running the Cork City Marathon in full fire-fighting gear.
Running with St Finbarr’s AC and helping to train U9s with Bandon AC, O’Shea is hopeful that ultra-marathon running will receive a boost and bigger profile from July’s hosting in Belfast.
‘I would hope this would be a catalyst for positively promoting our sport,’ he said.
‘There are great ultra-running events happening the length and breadth of the country but they don’t receive the recognition they deserve because it is not an Olympic sport.
‘To date the longest Olympic event is the 50km race walk followed by the marathon. I am sure as the sport continues to grow globally we will see the Olympics host an ultra-running event; it’s only a matter of time.’