The Wicklow Round is a hill-running challenge involving a 100km circuitous route which visits 26 summits and takes on combined ascent of 20,000ft. That's hard enough as it is, but to make matters worse, the whole thing needs to be completed in just 24 hours.
The Round winds right through the beautiful Wicklow Mountain National Park, a 54,000-acre paradise just south of Dublin, taking in its highest point, the 2,612-foot Mount Leinster (Lugnaquilla).
In 2009, endurance runner Eoin Keith laid down a phenomenal fastest known time of the Round, with the clock stopping on 17 hours and 53 minutes. Could that record be broken? And if so, by whom?
If you were going to put your money on anyone, it would be American ultra runner Joe McConaughy, who last year managed to break the speed record for the whole Appalachian Trail, running the 2,190-mile trail in just 45 days – and without support.
Apparently the Wicklow Round had been a challenge on the Bostonian runner's bucket list for some time (we're hazarding a guess that Irish ancestry might have something to do with this), and this summer, he decided it was about time he took it on...
VIDEO: Joe McConaughy Goes For the Wicklow Round FKT
"Off-trail could mean, sloshy soaked moss that you couldn’t hope to keep your feet dry it," said Joe immediately after his attempt. "It could also mean six-foot-high peak hags that you had to run up and over. It could also mean three-foot-deep bogs that you unwittingly stepped on, assuming it was simply mud or not that deep. It could also mean heather up to your knees that you had to muscle through. In the worst situation, it also meant a quarter-mile-long briar that rose up your shoulders and had no discernible path. I was picking thorns out of my legs and arms for a month later. Also, the terrain was incredibly beautiful and awe inspiring—classic rolling hills and mountains intermingled with lakes."