A Ballycastle athlete is limbering up for the challenge of a lifetime when she tackles an incredible 100km race in north Antrim this month.
Helena Dornan, a member of Ballycastle Runners AC, will take on a global field of top endurance athletes when she competes in the Lost Worlds Trail Series event on Saturday 31 March.
The series of non-stop 100km and 50km off-road foot races will take runners to some of the world’s most inspiring World Heritage sites including those races presently scheduled for 2012-2014 in Nicaragua, Italy and Belize.
Around 200 participants from Canada, US, Italy, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, UK, South Africa, Portugal, Finland, Latvia and Ireland have already registered.
It is understood that the only other Northern Ireland athlete to join Helena on the starting line will be endurance legend Hanna Shields.
The Causeway Crossing Ultra route stretches over mixed terrain, and runs from Glenariff, through Ballintoy to Portrush and finishing in Larrybane. To prepare for the gruelling event Helena has been running between and 60 and 70 miles each week.
She was due to complete her last long training run of 51 miles on Saturday within a time of 8 hours 36 minutes. Helena, 40, has been a keen runner for the last five years and has completed a number of endurance events.
She took part in the Causeway Coast Ultra Marathon last October, completing 40 miles in 7 hours 19 minutes.
Last year Helena finished five-and-a-half marathons in six months but the Lost World Trail Series will definitely stretch the limits of her endurance.
And to add to the challenge, the route has been slightly extended meaning Helena will have to run a gruelling 104km (64.8 miles).
Asked why she decided to sign up for the race, Helena said: “The route is passing some parts of the Ultra Marathon route that I did in October and I decided let’s go for it. I will never get this opportunity again on my doorstep.”
She added: “This is definitely a step up in competition but I’m just worried about finishing it. I just want to cross the finish line in under 16 hours.”
Helena also extended a word of thanks to her fellow team mates at Ballycastle Runners AC who took part in 10-mile legs of training runs to help her train for the event.
Ballycastle Runners also wished Helena the best of luck with the challenge and would encourage everyone to show their support to all the runners on the day.
However, Helena’s adventures won’t end with the race as the following weekend she will abseil down Ramone Head in Portrush in aid of the Marie Curie cancer charity.