"Milestone Way" - Day Two - Peter Ryan's Malin to Mizen Ultra Run

October 18, 2023

Peter was set to run from Omagh to Edgeworthstown in County Longford on Day Two. Meeting in the hotel lobby at 5:30am, the crew were assigned jobs by our Project Manager Meg, before leaving for the first leg of the day. I was assigned to be in the lead car. We would drive in front of Peter while keeping a safe distance and navigate his path, while the Vision Van was driven behind Peter. I would lean out of the passenger side window and tell Peter what distance he had left to run, as well as point out any potholes or other obstacles on the road. We would have food and drink supplies for Peter in the lead car also and would hand them out the window to him upon his request.

The trust Peter had in the people around him blew me away. His mindset and his attitude towards each leg of each run was admirable, and it made for an unforgettable week. The togetherness amongst the crew was special, with everybody focused on one man and giving all their energy and more to get him through each leg of the journey.

When we departed the Silverbirch Hotel in Omagh on that Monday morning, Peter was in good spirits, chatting to us in the lead car and cracking the odd joke here and there. “Don’t worry Rory, you’re gonna have to get used to me making some strange noises!” He wasn’t wrong!

His pace, as it was throughout the whole run, was truly unbelievable. Peter kept a pace of roughly 10km/h the whole way down the country. Running for that many hours, which was 14-15 hours per day on average, and to be able to keep that pace was astonishing. That was my first takeaway from Day Two.

During the first leg of the day, at roughly 7:10am, I watched Peter climb a steep incline and it was the first time I had seen him do so with it being my first leg being involved. He cleared the incline smoothly and, at the brow of the hill, there was a sign that read ‘Milestone Way’. This moment stuck with me for the rest of the week.

Peter completed the first three and a half hours of Day Two without a hitch. It was 9:30am when Peter told us in the lead car that he had pain in his knee and that he would need work on it from our physio Gavin at the next break. Gavin told me in the aftermath “I strapped it, but due to his high body temperature and sweat, no tapes would stay on.” Gavin decided to “compromise and use anti-inflammatory gels as well as light manual therapy” which helped keep Peter going. I remember speaking to Peter while he was getting his knee strapped up on one of our 10-15-minute breaks, and he asked me how I was doing. I was taken aback by the fact he asked me this as he was the one getting physio done on a knee that was in pain that I can’t even imagine. I responded, “What do you mean how am I doing, how are you doing?!”. Peter laughed and told me that his approach to the run was to ‘take it town by town and reset the watch each time. I can’t be thinking that I have 100km ahead of me!” This was just the start of the turbulence that Peter would go on to experience for the rest of the journey, and we hadn’t left Ulster yet.

Knowing Peter was hurting, I would check in as much as possible from the lead car to see how he was feeling, and report back to the crew who would be waiting at our next stop preparing food and recovery for Peter upon his arrival. Peter told me that he found running downhill much more difficult, as it had a heavy impact on his knees and quads in particular. It was at this point that brilliant crew member, Alex, joined Peter and cycled alongside him for the coming four hours.

We took our lunch break at approximately 13:50pm. The lunch breaks would be 40/45 minutes of rest for Peter to take on food and drink and relax in the camper van. For the following leg, Meg took over the role of driving the lead car, and I took my place in the passenger seat. Peter’s fiancée Gemma cycled alongside him on this leg, and to watch the two of them travel through that leg was truly heart-warming to see. The amount of support that Gemma offered not only Peter, but the entire crew all week long was immeasurable. There were tears shed on that particular leg, that’s for sure!

Peter Ryan's Malin to Mizen Run - Day Two
Peter and his fiancée Gemma on Day Two of Peter's Malin to Mizen Ultra Run

After having a slight hiccup with his knee issues earlier in the day, Peter recovered immensely and ran brilliantly for the rest of the day. Gavin attributes the “chance to lie down and recover at lunch” to the strong running that Peter exhibited for the rest of Day Two. We started to play music from the lead car for Peter, hoping that it would help drive him on, and it certainly provided a couple of funny moments along the way!

When the penultimate leg came around, Peter was back running on his own, and there were three of us in the lead car, Alex, Ena, and myself. Given the fact we had good numbers in the car, Ena and I decided to join Peter intermittently on this leg of the run. Peter’s willingness to chat during each and every stint of the run without running out of breath by the end of it baffled me. We spoke about anything and everything, from Peter hurling when he was younger to his love for the Leeds United squad of 2000/01. Peter finished that leg strongly and now had the finish line of Day Two in his sights.

During the last leg of this 121km day, Peter was understandably struggling. The pain he was in was utterly unimaginable. Alex joined Peter on this leg once again, talking him through every step of the journey from his bicycle. I decided to get out of the lead car and join Peter and Alex once again for the last couple of kilometres. Peter, as he did all week, picked up the pace for those last kilometres and saw out Day Two with flying colours. Gavin shared with me that “By the end of Day Two, large blisters were forming on his feet and the tops of his feet were becoming very tender, almost like bone bruises, and his hips, thighs, and shins were all sore.”

Being briefly alongside Peter on the road for the latter parts of Day Two, I gained a new appreciation for the man. He demonstrated the heart and mentality of a champion, and really showed me just how special an athlete he is.

This leads us into Day Three, a day that I will never forget for the rest of my life. Stay tuned to Run Republic for a recap of the raw emotion of Day Three.

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