independent

Thursday 22 August 2019

90 hours in the saddle for charity

HOPE BENEFITS FROM MARATHON EFFORT

ELAINE FURLONG

IN A PHENOMENAL feat of fitness, a County Wexford native has raced around the country non-stop in just 90 hours.

Mark Kiely from 32 Southknock, New Ross, set off last Sunday evening on the third annual 'Race Around Ireland', Ireland's ultra marathon cycling challenge.

On Thursday morning, a weary yet elated Mark and his team, having cycled some 2,170 kilometres, finished what is regarded as Europe's toughest cycling challenge. To make it ever sweeter the team won their racing category by forty minutes.

Mark and his fellow team mates Dino Bernaerdt and Fabrice Pattyn from Belgium and Paul McCorry, a recovering cancer patient from Cavan, set off from Navan, Co. Meath at 5 p.m. last Sunday.

From there they passed through Drogheda, Dundalk, went up through the North and Derry and arrived at Malin Head at 6.15 a.m.

Buncrana was their next stop followed by Letterkenny and Sligo. They ended up in Doolin, Co. Clare, cycled by the Cliffs of Moher at 3 a.m. went onto Kerry and did all major climbs in the Ring of Kerry, ended up in Sneen and headed to Glengariff and Mizen Head.

Their next port of call was Kinsale and then Youghal, before heading across to Waterford and over Mahon Falls.

The team arrived in Mark's hometown of New Ross late on Wednesday night. They cycled through the town, went out to Campile, Arthurstown, the Duncannon New Line to Wellingtonbridge, Kilmore Quay and Drinagh and before taking on Mount Leinster at 4 a.m. that morning, then venturing on to the Sally Gap and finishing in Navan at 11 a.m. Thursday morning.

'I am thrilled. It was such an emotional experience,' said Mark, who during the nineties was a top amateur cyclist in Ireland. He stopped racing in 1998 and now coaches some of the best riders in the country and has coached up to World Championship level.

Mark decided to take on the challenge to raise funds for the Hope Cancer Support Centre in Enniscorthy as his family have found the support received there tremendously beneficial. His father, well-known Rossonian Seamus Kiely, got cancer two years ago and both he and his wife Maureen found Hope a great help in dealing with his diagnosis.

To support the Hope Foundation contact Mark on 086 8508482 or email fundraising@hopesupportcentre.ie.

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