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Ultra runner Sophie Power sets new 350-mile north-to-south Ireland record

Written by Fiona

May 27 2024

Sophie Power has set a new record by completing a run from one end of Ireland to the other. The 41-year-old ran 347 miles from Malin Head in the north of the country to Mizen Head in the south in three days, 12 hours and eight minutes. She was more than three hours faster than the previous Guinness World Record holder Mimi Anderson.

But Sophie said the feat was less about the record and more about encouraging other people to take on their own challenges.

The 41-year-old founder of SheRACES said: “The record actually doesn’t mean so much to me. The record provided the structure to test my limits and to inspire others, especially women.

“It is, of course, nice to have set a world record and I am immensely proud of myself but the challenge was meant to take me out of my comfort zone, which it did.”

Sophie Power is an accomplished endurance runner.

Who is Sophie Power?

Sophie, of Guildford, Surrey, is a veteran of many long-distance challenges. The mum-of-three has represented Team GB at the IAU 24-Hour World Championships 2023, where she was the first GB runner and 19th female.

She achieved a 24-hour personal best at the Crawley A.I.M. Charity 24 Hour Race 2023, when she was first female with 235km.

She has run more than 50 ultra-marathons around the world, including Spartathlon and 250km stage races from Nepal, to Bhutan and the Sahara.

Sophie chose Ireland for a world record attempt for a number of reasons. She said: “John is Irish and our three children are half-Irish. I thought it would be a great journey if John and our sons, nine-year-old Donnacha and six-year-old Cormac, travelled with us in a campervan.

“The route also finished only a couple of hours’ drive from where John’s parents live and our daughter, Saoirse, who is aged three, was staying with them. 

“Plus, I have long admired Mimi Anderson and knowing she had set a world record on the route  inspired me to run it, too.”

Sleep was taken in naps.
At the start there was torrential rain.
The heat was over-whelming on day three.

Sophie’s end-to-end Ireland record run

Sophie started the record-breaking run on May 28, 2024. The feat, which included 17,502ft of ascent, quickly took its toll. She said: “From quite early on I had very sore chafing around my bottom, like a nappy rash. Then, my feet became painful and, from about 150 miles, I had a problem with right knee. The knee pain came from the constant camber of the roads.

“The nights were also mentally tough and I felt vulnerable on the roads because of large vehicles and poor vision. My cycling support Kate Strong stayed with me but I felt scared and I was so tired I started whimpering.”

The weather was challenging, too. Sophie said: “On days one and two there was torrential rain and a headwind and then, on the last day, it was very warm and I suffered heat-stroke. I didn’t know if I could keep going because I felt so ill. My support crew did everything they could to try to cool me down.”

According to her Garmin Connect app statistics, recorded on a Garmin Enduro and a Garmin Fenix 7S, which both lasted the entire challenge on a single charge, Sophie ran an average pace of 14.33 miles and her total sleep was two hours 17 minutes, taken in naps of eight to 10 minutes and two 30-minute night sleeps.

The total number of calories burned was 27,899. She consumed a mix of Rawvelo bars, jam wraps, Precision Hydration gels, ice-cream, sweets and take-away chips.

The hardest day was the final one. She said: “I aimed for about 230 calories per hour but when I had heatstroke it was very difficult to eat anything. I survived on the minimum amount of calories I think was possible over the whole run.”

Family, friends and the public supported Sophie through her record-breaking Ireland run.

‘I am grateful for a tailwind of support’

Sophie believes the record would not have been possible without her supporters. She said: “I was fortunate to have an amazing group of people around me. I am so grateful to John and our sons who travelled with me in a campervan. I also had an amazing support crew.

“I had a tailwind of support from the public, too. I had so many social media messages, which my crew read out to me, and, once word got out about what I was doing,  many members of the public turned up to run with me.

“I was also cheered on by pupils at schools along the route, especially in County Cork towards the end. It was amazing to have all these people willing me on.

“A major part of the challenge for me was to make it to the end as a way of inspiring others, especially girls and women, to take on their own running challenge.”

Sophie Power’s challenge tips

Sophie has a number of tips for other runners who would like to test themselves. She said: “Choose a challenge that you believe is possible but that takes you out of your normal comfort zone.

“It is like he Goldilocks principle: It should not be too easy but also not too hard. I think people should also embrace the idea of failure because you should be stretched to achieve something.

“Then gather your family and friends around you. Having my family and friends all around me during the Ireland World Record attempt was so important to me.

“We also need to understand why we are taking on a challenge. You need to know what it will mean to you to finish a challenge, or aim for a goal. That is a great motivator for training and competing the challenge.

“I hope other people will find a challenge and feel the benefits of training towards it and hopefully succeeding.” 

Find out more about Sophie Power.

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