Andrea to take on 12-hour challenge

ANDREA Heslip is taking part in the gruelling Energia 24-Hour race, taking the 12 hour challenge, on Friday July 6 at 6.45pm which this year takes place at the eight-lane Sportsplex in Bangor, County Down.

The Irish Championship event attracts a stunning field of ultra runners including Teeside sports lecturer Sharon Gayter, ranked number one in the world in 2011, who will challenge the defending Irish champion John O’Regan from Co Kildare who has competed all over the world for Ireland.

Last year Andrea, who runs for Banbridge Athletic Club, completed the 24 hour challenge covering 75 miles and this year is taking the 12 hour challenge. An experienced runner she has completed 18 marathons including Brighton and Belfast this year alone. A UK Athletics coach, Andrea is athletics coach at Ballydown Primary School where she works as a classroom assistant.

Looking forward to the challenge Andrea said, “Last year I felt good at the 12 hour point and decided to make it my goal this year to complete 50 miles in the 12 hours. My support team, Judith White and Janis Wright, both teachers at Ballydown, are camping out at the track to help and encourage me to achieve that goal.”

The 24-hour race is visiting the Bangor Sportsplex for the first time. There is a 12-hour race and a relay for teams of four which includes a team from the local athletics club North Down.

Race Director Ed Smith said, “Every time I put this event on I expect no one to turn up! But, as befits an Irish Championship, we’ve got some of the very best ultrarunners around. That means records could tumble.

“We put on the T-Shirt ‘mind over matter’ – and that’s what these athletes have in spades – so come along and give them some support – they’ve earned it.”

The race starts at 6.45pm on Friday,July 6. Competitors can choose to step off the track and rest at any time and avail of their tented HQ in centre-field. The only break from the monotony is that they have to change direction every four hours. The man and woman who go the furthest will win £500 and there are special prizes for joining the 100 mile club.