250km multi-day event in the Gobi Desert is on Leap woman’s wishlist
BY KIERAN McCARTHY
RUTHANN Sheahan went from a couch to 5k to the 250km Marathon Des Sables last year.
The ultra-runner, who won the 2012 West Cork Sports Star of the Year award after her Irish record-breaking heroics at the 24-hour World and European Championships in Poland, took a break from endurance running for over 18 months before stepping back into that world last year.
Life, work and other interests took centre stage for a spell before her motivation was rekindled by a ‘couch to 5k’ training group.
Not long after, the Leap woman was back doing what she does best – exploring the extraordinary.
‘After the world championships in 2015, I intended to take a small break but I couldn’t get back into it. Other parts of life took over, until I made more time last year, started a couch to 5k and I trained more and more from there on.’
Last year was extra busy when Ruthann, who works for Boston Scientific, was posted in Lausanne, Switzerland, from July, but she made the most of her new surroundings, especially Lake Geneva.
‘I spent hours walking around it one day and I was thinking that I surely could run around it,’ she said.
‘I was going to do it by myself when I stumbled across a race around Lake Geneva, a 175km non-stop race that took us into France and back to Switzerland.
‘When I met up with ultra-runners again it rekindled and reminded me of what the motivation was in day one.’
Back in groove, Ruthann was soon getting ready for the 250km Marathon Des Sables six-stage race across the Ica Desert in Peru – an incredible experience. She was the seventh female past the finish line.
‘That was pretty intense,’ she said.
‘It was fabulous but very tough. Near the end of the race, you come out of the Ica Desert and are facing into the Pacific Ocean. It’s stunning.
‘It was 250 kilometres over six days, the shortage day was 20km, the longest was close to 70km.
It was purely self sufficient, they give you food and water at the start and off you go.’
With her appetite whetted, 2018 is another year of possibilities as Ruthann plots more great adventures. Two potentials include the 250km multi-day event in the Gobi Desert and a six-day 200km event in Albania, while at some point she also wants to compete in the mother of all endurances races, Badwater 135 across Death Valley (135 miles non-stop).
‘I’m looking at a few things this year to ramp it up,’ she says, underselling her plans.
Also on the to-do list this year is the Connemara 100, a 100k event in Portugal, the 24-Hour European Championships and a couple of more events as she juggles running, life and work – but that’s the
challenge she enjoys.
Home in Leap for Christmas – her parents run The Leap Inn – before spending time in Galway where she lives and works, Ruthann flew back out to Lausanne this week for work, with a jog high on her list of priorities this weekend. Some things never change.