AN ESKRA ultra runner has secured ‘a golden ticket’ after he was the last man standing at the Desert Trail Backyard Ultra in Dubai over the weekend.
Mark Haigney ran the perfect tactical race to see off the challenge of 36 other competitors in oven-hot conditions and soaring temperatures. Haigney, representing the recently-formed Ultra Running Club Ireland, crossed the finish line having run 104.5 miles in 25 hours.
Competitors began dropping off like proverbial flies in the second half of the race to the point that the only two left standing was Haigney and a fellow competitor called Rob Jones.
Both ran together until breaking the 100-mile barrier inside 24 hours but having passed that psychological mark Jones called it a day leaving the Tyrone man to finish the lap and complete a magnificent victory.
Haigney now qualifies for the Big Backyard Ultra in Bell Buckle, Tennessee in October and no one is more pleased about that the winner himself.
The Eskra man was also delighted that his strategy had worked a treat.
“This is a very unique race and there are a lot of tactics involved,” he said.
“Really it’s all about looking after yourself, eating, drinking etc and, of course, pacing yourself.
“For the first 10 laps I was coming in dead last but tactically I was conserving my energy.
“In the second half of the race I finished a couple of laps well ahead of the field and to be honest I was messing with people’s heads at that point. But that’s all part of the fun.”
Having triumphed in Dubai, Mark doesn’t intend to rest on his laurels. In fact next month he is taking on the Tunnel Ultra based near Bath.
Runners are challenged to run through the one-mile long underground Combe Down tunnel 100 times out and back with the aim of completing 200 miles in 55 hours.
It is considered the toughest ultra race of its kind in the UK.
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