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"Even days later, the achievement has not sunk in" – Sophie Power explains how she ran the length of Ireland in record time

 Sophie Power running.
Sophie Power running.

Runner Sophie Power says it was an “overwhelming tailwind of people pushing her forward” that helped her to set a new female Guinness World Record for running the length of Ireland.

The 41-year-old mum-of-three took three days, 12 hours and eight minutes to run 347.03 miles from Malin Head in the north of the country to Mizen Head in the south. Sophie was more than three hours faster than the previous record holder, Mimi Anderson.

But the impressive road running feat, which included a total ascent of 17,502ft, left the accomplished ultra runner “chronically exhausted”. She also suffered pain, injury and heatstroke during the record run.

Sophie, of Guildford, Surrey, told Advnture: “From quite early on I had very sore chafing around my bottom, like a nappy rash. Then my feet became sore and, from about 150 miles on, I had a painful right knee. The knee pain came from the constant camber of the roads.

Sophie Power and supporters
Sophie Power and supporters

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

The weather was challenging, too. “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 heatstroke," said Sophie. "I just 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.

“This record was achieved not just by me, but by an amazing group of people. I am so grateful to my husband John, my two young sons and the support crew.”

Sophie Power kissing sign for Malin Head
Sophie Power kissing sign for Malin Head

A tailwind of support

Sophie spoke of 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 primary schools along the route, especially in County Cork towards the end. It was amazing to have all these people willing me on and it was that tailwind of support that kept me going.

“I wanted to make it to the end for all these people and to be able to inspire others, especially girls and women, to take on their own running challenge.”

Sophie Power running in rain
Sophie Power running in rain

The idea for a world record run

Sophie is a veteran of many long-distance challenges. She 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 AIM Charity 24 Hour Race 2023, when she was first female with 235km.

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

She is also known to many people after a photo of her breastfeeding her then three-month-old baby at the 106-mile UTMB in 2018 went viral.

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.

Sophie Power napping outdoors on the ground
Sophie Power napping outdoors on the ground

“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 and knowing she had set a world record on the route inspired me."

However, Sophie reports that the run was “less about a world record attempt” and more a about “challenging myself to step out of my comfort zone”.

“I like the concept of challenging myself and there is power in aiming to cross a finish line or trying to achieve something that you might not be able to do," she said. “I think we should all take on challenges that are meaningful to ourselves because of the rewards in trying to succeed.

“I also like a challenge that has my family and friends all around me. The Ireland World Record attempt was all of this.”

Sophie Power being cooled down
Sophie Power being cooled down

Sophie's record-breaking Ireland run

Sophie, who wore Brooks Ghost Max for most of the run, believed that from around 200 miles she would take the record if all went well, although she did not foresee the heatstroke.

According to her Garmin Connect app statistics, recorded on a Garmin Enduro 2 and a Garmin Fenix 7S, which both lasted the entire challenge on a single charge, she ran an average pace of 14 minutes 33 seconds per mile, and her total sleep was two hours 17 minutes (taken in naps of eight to 10 minutes, and two 30-minute sleeps at night).

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.”

Sophie Power kissing sign for Mizen Head
Sophie Power kissing sign for Mizen Head

Sophie, who is the founder of SheRACES, said: “Even days later, the achievement has not sunk in. I am chronically exhausted, though.

“But 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's tips for your own challenge

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

“It is like the Goldilocks principle: It should not be too easy but also not too hard. Embrace the idea of failure because you should be stretched to achieve something. Then gather your family and friends around you – that is so important to me – and understand why you are taking on the challenge. You need to know what it will mean to you to finish a challenge, or to aim for a goal. That is a great motivator for training and completing the challenge.

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

Find out more on Sophie's website.