Home » Breaking News » Shannon man completes gruelling Sahara ultra marathon
Shannon man Matthew Halpin who is in training for Marathon Des Sables, a 250km gruelling Sahara six day marathon. Photograph by John Kelly

Shannon man completes gruelling Sahara ultra marathon


SHANNON’S Matthew Halpin completed the Marathon des Sables last week, a 250km six day ultra marathon through the Sahara.

He signed up to honour the memory of his friend Kevin Hayes, who died as a result of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome, and he used the opportunity to raise funds for Heart House, a free family heart screening clinic at the Mater Hospital.

Covering 250km of the Sahara is not easy and Matthew said he had suffered in the sun. “It was pretty tough, yeah. I got a fever on the second day and I had to slow down on the third day to get through. On day four, which was a long day, it was 52 or 53 degrees. I think it was 45 in the shade.”

Despite the obvious difficulties, he says it was well worth doing. “I’m happy that I was able to do it, it raised a nice bit of money for the charity which was good. It was definitely an experience. The scenery I wouldn’t have paid much attention to on the first two days because I was running, but I paid a nice bit of attention to it on the third and fourth day and it was lovely. Walking, for a 24 or 28 hour period, was an experience in itself. You have a lot of time to contemplate and think about things. You meet people on the way and chat to them. It was really good and I’ll definitely go back. It won’t be next year, I’ll take a bit of time to do other races and go from there.”

He did it more slowly than he had originally hoped, but knew he had to adapt if he were to reach the finishing line. “The plan had been to run (the complete distance) but the illness I got on the second day was due to overheating, we were into the high forties then. You either run until the engine breaks or you slow down and you get the race finished. That was more important, it was better to get the race finished rather than doing three days fast and not being able to do the rest of it.”

He said he had to work on turning his thoughts away from how punishing the race was. “There were a few points when it was really tough, but I had to remember I was doing it for Kevin, he was with me when I was out there. You want to finish and the whole point of changing the gameplan was to make sure I finished. I was thinking about seeing the family when I got home and the first proper meal I’d have afterwards! The guys staying in the tent were really good as well, everyone was talking about the same type of stuff, sharing stories and trying to have a bit of a laugh.”

Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.