Christopher Callaghan, and his dad Carl, began their 83-lap challenge of Armagh’s picturesque Mall this morning (Friday), with it expected to take well into the evening to complete.
It’s part of Carl’s training for the Norn Iron Ultra 100, which is taking place next June. It’s a 106-mile ultra run across the North Antrim coast, running from Ballintoy down to the village of Gortin near Omagh.
The duo began long-distance running before the Covid lockdown and continued through the pandemic.
Said Christopher: “Just because there was nothing else you could do, the distances just got longer and longer.
“At that point I had started training for 100 miles and my father undertook a lot of the training with me and he became hooked on the idea of that distance as well. Next year will be his first try for 100 miles.”
Christopher started his first training run in February 2019, entering the marathon in Connemara five weeks later, before signing up to the Belfast Marathon.
“It crippled me, but I was like, ‘oh I actually really like this’. I had like three marathons back to back and I realised the distance was really doable, so I wanted to push further.
“Then I went to Portumna and that was my first ultra marathon. My father came along and crewed me and he says he was just obsessed with the whole idea.”
They recently ran 31 miles around the Mall as part of the training, hoping to bump that number up this time around.
“Everything went well. We brought everything we needed in the back of the car and we used the car like a checkpoint. You have everything you need on the Mall, which is perfect. We liked the idea of doing 50 miles, but then the thought of another 19 miles on top of it, we thought it was going to be pretty hard.”
With the Mall’s flat terrain, it should be a piece of cake for many a seasoned runner. For Christopher, he says the real challenge will be the monotony of 83 laps around the same scenery.
He said: “The distance, at this point, we both know we can probably cover. It’s just the monotony of the same thing. There’s Dominoes… There’s the prison… just around and around and around. I think it’ll get to the point where we will just say, ‘here we go again’.
“You just have to switch off and go into your own mind and focus on something else until you get around again… We just have to try to keep the mind occupied on something else other than the fact we’re just running in a circle all day!”