Meath athlete Keith Russell has claimed a sensational second place finish at the Race of Champions Backyard Masters in Germany.
The Navan native was the second last man standing in the event which sees participants having to complete a 6.7km lap every hour going as fast or slow as they wish.
Failure to complete the lap within the hour results in elimination from the race.
In 2021, Russell completed 63 laps of the course but improved his performance significantly this year.
The field contained 24 athletes including fellow Irishman Jivee Tolentino who DNF’d just short of 24 hours into the race.
Russell broke his own record when he pushed past 64 laps, with Belgian athlete Merijn Geerts keeping him company.
After some 430km of running and 73 laps it was only Russell and Geerts left in the race.
As both men headed into their mind-blowing fourth consecutive night of running, they broke the previous world record of 85 laps which was set last year in Tennessee, but they weren’t finished there.
Russell managed to continue on and battled his way to the 89th lap when eventually his resilience broke. Geerts was then left with the challenge of completing one more lap to win the race and succeeded in doing so.
Russell covered 597km in a time of 66 hours, 14 minutes, and 22 seconds, averaging a lap in less than 45 minutes.
Participation in the event is not open to everyone. Only those invited can attend and following on from his success in the Last One Standing race in Down last year Russell was one of the select few invited.
Russell’s achievements are even more remarkable when you consider than he only started running six years ago. He has now produced one of the best, if not the best Ultra performances ever by an Irish athlete.
He started running with his daughter Alanna, who had spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy in 2016 and ran the Dublin Marathon in 2017 pushing her in a wheelchair, raising €60,000 for the Meadow’s Children’s Respite Centre in Navan.
Sadly, Alanna passed away six weeks later but determined to keep his daughter’s memory alive Russell kept running.
In an interview last year, he spoke about how running helped him following his daughter’s death.
“Running has saved me from crashing completely after Alanna died. She has inspired me and brought this life to me. I would encourage any parent with a child with special needs to start running with them. You will see a massive change in them, and yourself.”
Russell’s attitude and extraordinary exploits in pushing the boundaries of human endeavour will surely inspire many.