"Psychologically it was a Huge Day because we Started Counting Down" - Day Four - Peter Ryan's Malin to Mizen Ultra Run

October 24, 2023

“The Wednesday was definitely helped by that evening in Nenagh. We got in almost an hour earlier than usual, and that just gave me time to almost let my shoulders down from my ears and just unwind a little mentally. I still didn’t sleep right, but I feel like I got to mentally switch off for the first time all week.”

Being in the hotel lobby that Wednesday morning, I was anxious about how the day ahead would go. Despite ending Day Three on such a high in Nenagh surrounded by friends and family, the fact was that Peter had a major wobble beforehand where there had been serious questions asked about whether he would be able to continue. There was also that question of whether his morale would now dip after having such a special moment but having to face two more days of running.

Peter told me about his mindset on that morning of Day Four, “There really was that dread of going from the lobby of the hotel to the start of the run thinking ‘What are my legs going to say and do?’ because the pain was still very raw at that stage. It’s the anticipation of what the first couple of steps will do.”

Day Four was the day where Peter’s physio changed. Gavin left the crew before the last leg of Day Three, and he was replaced by Eddy O’Byrne for the last two days. Eddy told me that he was aware of what had happened in Birr on Day Three, but he would never have guessed otherwise as Peter was in such good form. “The first thing he said to me was ‘Bonjour!’ as I had spent the last five weeks in France!”

“I started off poor and felt bad for the first two blocks” Peter told me in hindsight. “The second block, I did it on my own, and I found that really tough. But that was the last time I ran on my own for the rest of the event.” That was a major factor, without a doubt. For the first three days, Peter had wanted to run alone for the first leg or two, but once friends and family started joining him on Day Four there was a clear lift both mentally and physically in him. “Aussie Craig deserves a mention here. I felt that every time I ran with him, I ran really well!”

Peter Ryan's Run - Day Four
Peter laughing alongside Craig and Sean of the NCBI on Day Four.

Eddy had the same thoughts as Peter in terms of how the early legs of Day Four went, “The only time I saw him limping on that day was that second leg after leaving Nenagh, which was amazing given what I had been told about how he was in Birr the day before. I had taken over from Gavin and he had told me that he was worried about a potential stress fracture in his right foot, so when I saw him limping that early, I was worried it was his foot, but thankfully it was his quad.”

Peter and Eddy worked very well together throughout Day Four. Watching on from the lead car, I felt like having Eddy running alongside him for certain spells of the day was a massive help, even in terms of him knowing immediately if there was any specific pain Peter was feeling. “Eddy, to go from being physio to running at least 30-40km, really gave me a boost.”

As we travelled through Limerick, we were anticipating a phone call from RTE 2FM at any moment as Peter was scheduled to have a live interview. I was given Gemma’s phone and we kept Peter close to the passenger window for when the phone rang. The initial plan was to sit Peter into the car and to do the interview from inside, but because he was running so well, Peter didn’t want to interrupt his rhythm.

We ended up handing the phone out the window to Peter and he did the interview while running the streets of Limerick. We turned the radio on in the car and listened to him while we watched him out the windows of the car. It was such a surreal experience to watch him running with the phone up to his ear and listen to him on the radio at the same time, and what was even more amazing was how clear his voice came through the broadcast. That was certainly a highlight of the week.

As we approached midday, Peter began to really find his stride. His pace was unbelievable, and his body was holding up exceptionally well. “For that middle 80k or so, I felt really good. I don’t know whether it was the new people, but the momentum was definitely building. We had people following us on the road, horns were beeping, it was beginning to feel real and started to feel like we were getting through it. Psychologically it was a huge day because we started counting down for the first time.”

At each stop we made, I was becoming increasingly impressed with how he looked physically. He didn’t seem to be slowing down, and any pain he began to feel was quickly seen to by Eddy. I asked Eddy about the process that himself and Peter had on Day Four, “It was just a case of managing him. He’d tell me where he was sore, and we’d do a little bit of release work on those areas and that would relieve his symptoms for the next couple of legs. Then it was just rinse and repeat for the rest of the day.”

The morale was very high as we approached the end of Day Four. Crew members were joining in for legs and Peter himself describes it as being a “fun day” up until the very last leg of the journey. The last leg of Day Four saw Peter run from Freemount into Kanturk, and it was tough for different reasons than before. Previously the difficult legs had been when Peter was physically struggling, and while I don’t doubt that he was in enormous pain, the struggle on this stretch felt far more psychological. “That last stretch into Kanturk was one of the hardest I put down. It was dark and dangerous, and a little bit chaotic with the traffic.”

Being in the lead car with Meg for this final leg of the day, there was serious worry about whether we would be able to finish it, simply because of the conditions. It was a winding road which was poorly lit and traffic was consistently building up behind us putting more pressure on Peter. But, as he had done all week, he put his head down and would not be stopped. He kept a great pace and finished out the leg in impressive fashion.

“There was a serious sense of accomplishment when we finished that day. There was a lot of variables between the wind and the rain, but when we got through it the morale was high and the team was good.”

With four days down and one to go, there was a real buzz within the crew that night. We were all aware that Peter was on the home straight and our previous worries about whether he could finish the journey were truly put to bed. With roughly 120km to go, the excitement was building for what was to come on the fifth and final day.

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