The Birth of Hellevation: A Backyard Ultra Journey

February 22, 2024

Tom Owens, co-founder of Hellevation, sat down for an interview with Run Republic to share the story of how Munster's first ever Backyard Ultra event came into existence.

Hellevation is not just an ordinary race; it's a testament to the adventurous spirit of Hellevation co-founders Tom Owens and PJ Meehan. The story begins with their shared love for running and a series of unconventional adventures, including participating in a Backyard Ultra in Belfast organised by Adrian and Sammy Daye.

Despite facing horrendous weather, the duo fell in love with the Backyard Ultra format. The thrill of the challenge was undeniable, prompting Tom and PJ to return the following year to Florida Manor, completing an impressive 25 loops each. Little did they know that their journey would lead to them becoming pivotal figures in bringing Backyard Ultra to Munster for the very first time.

Sammy Daye approached Tom and PJ during their time in Wales and proposed a challenge – organise the Munster Backyard Ultra. Without any prior experience in directing a race, the duo embraced the opportunity wholeheartedly, setting the stage for the birth of Hellevation.

Tom emphasizes the inclusivity of Hellevation, encouraging not only elite runners but anyone willing to take on the challenge. His passion lies in getting people to enter, even those who may be content with completing just six loops, equivalent to a marathon. The more participants, the better it is for everyone involved, fostering growth for the sport.

One distinguishing feature of Hellevation is its challenging terrain. While many backyard ultras take place in flat landscapes, Hellevation lives up to its name with a course that includes uphill stretches in the first half, making it a demanding yet exhilarating run.

Organising such an event involves meticulous planning and collaboration. Tom expresses gratitude for the support received from The Coffee Coop, a local coffee shop serving as the event's base. They provide runners and crews with teas, coffees, and food, creating a supportive hub for the runners. 

Preparations for Hellevation began months in advance, with tasks ranging from securing permissions for the route to organizing T-shirts, finisher medals, and the exclusive 100 Mile Club medals for those achieving the remarkable feat of completing 100 miles.

Set in Grange, County Tipperary, Hellevation holds even more significance as the top 15 finishers qualify to represent Munster in the All Ireland series. This series brings together the top 15 participants from each of the four provinces, adding an extra layer of competition to Hellevation.

In the world of Backyard Ultra, the victor is not necessarily the fastest runner or the one with the most extensive training regimen. Instead, it's a testament to the mental fortitude and resilience of the participants. Hellevation champions those who can push past the point where the body pleads for rest, where the true challenge begins. The real game unfolds when the runners defy the physical fatigue, convincing themselves to embark on one more loop, defying the urge to quit, and discovering what new heights they can reach. In Hellevation, the triumph is not just a celebration of physical endurance but a testament to the unwavering spirit that refuses to yield.

You can sign up for the event, which takes place on Saturday April 6th, by clicking here!