The only way is Up

Saturday 29th April at 8a.m. is the scheduled start time for my HeadToHead adventure, attempting to break the record for running the length of Ireland (bottom to top) from Mizen Head to Malin Head. It’s going to require a lot to go right and very little to go wrong. Luck will definitely help. Thanks to everyone who has been wishing some of that precious commodity!

I think a lot of people would be surprised by how little detailed analysis I’ve putting into this. My main analysis was picking the most optimal route, which I remain happy with. The route is displayed on the live tracking page at Primal Tracking ( There are options there for choosing different base maps. OpenTopo maps look particularly interesting to my navigation-nerd eyes, with lots of contour detail.

Primal tracking have very helpfully put markers on the route at 100 kilometer intervals. My timings for hitting these should show up on the “leaderboard”, allowing a bit of spectator analysis of timings. The trackers have been setup to update every 90 seconds. Also notable on the tracking page is that my support crew also have a separate tracker. So there no excuses there for moving trackers around… my tracker will stay with me all the time.

I welcome everyone and anyone to come out and have a look, or even run along for a while. The tracking website should make it easy to find me. The main reason for encouraging this is for verification. The more people that see me running the route the better. The second reason is the simple one that it’s nice to meet people who are interested in this. Of course I can’t guarantee that I’ll be very talkative, but even if I’m going through a low it is always good to meet people. Inside I’ll be smiling!

As well as the tracker, my other main verification tool will be my Suunto Ambit 3 Peak watch. I’ve been “playing” with it for a few weeks since getting it from the Great Outdoors, getting confident with its features. It has a massive capacity to store tracking data, and can be set up with a potential 200 hours battery duration. I will set up to record GPS position at 1 minute intervals to ensure that battery life exceeds my likely interval between sleep stops. In fact it should manage the whole trip in one go. I will set its storage interval for other data at a 1 second interval.

Whenever the opportunity arises (More than likely sleep stops) I hope to get my support crew to upload the tracking data from the watch. This will be uploaded directly to Suunto’s Movescount site to a public profile which can be views here : This should also push the same data to a public profile on Strava which can be viewed here :

I have done very little planning on timings and locations along the route. I’m going to be trusting my experience and pacing to get things right. I only have a very broad outline of daily distance target. These are: 200km, 150km, 150km, remainder… not very complicated.  There are lots of factors that are likely to vary those figures in reality, such as how I deal with hills, and what the weather decides to do! Hills will be likely to be a factor at either end of the run, but particularly the first day.

Mizen to Malin Route Profile

Malin to Mizen Route Profile

Sleep strategy is similarly dynamic. The broad aim will be to get through all the way to the second night before sleeping. And from there take it as needed, with a provisional target of 2-3 hours per night, and power naps where necessary. The plan is to take these in the camper van which the support crew will be driving, minimising time off route to as close to zero as possible.

Food strategy will be similarly dynamic. Those that know me know that I usually don’t eat too much in events like this. I’ve managed to run 24 hour races eating virtually nothing, so I’ll be hoping to keep things simple and minimal. There’ll be no feeding schedule. No “power” bars or similar. Any big meals will probably be fast food! Richard assures me he knows where all the McDs are on the route 🙂 Real food will be a priority in theory. I imagine there will be more chocolate bars and jaffa cakes in practice

Liquids strategy will be similarly dynamic. No schedules… just drinking to thirst. Again, no “energy” drinks.  I usually go for fruit juices and smoothies, and flavoured milk. A bit less gunky and more “real”, but more importantly those are things I actually like drinking. There’ll probably be a few soft drinks as well.

The weather forecast at the moment is looking, ehhh, iffy! Very Irish in fact. I reckon I’ll get a mix of everything. This a definite risk factor. I should have the gear to deal with everything and anything though. This is where the likes of my much loved Columbia Outdry shell  jackets become very useful indeed! The one thing that is looking good weather wise is my choice of direction which works better with the predicted winds.

I’m looking forward to the journey. I will be revisiting some of my favourite parts of Ireland (West Cork) and hopefully seeing lots of places I haven’t visited before now, especially the “top” of the country up at Malin Head and the Inishowen Peninsula.


Malin Head… the end of the road.

Now I need to head off and do a bit of running!


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2 Responses to The only way is Up

  1. James H says:

    Looking forward to following you online Eoin. Hope it goes well, and much luck.

  2. conoro says:

    Best of luck Eoin. We’ll be watching the trackers!

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