My pandemic highlight — running 190km in under 35 hours, says Corkman

In our weekly My Weekend feature, Kieran O'Byrne tells us how he likes to spend his time-off - including a highlight of 2020
My pandemic highlight — running 190km in under 35 hours, says Corkman

Kieran O'Byrne who undertook the KerryWay Ultra marathon, running 190km in under 35 hours.

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

My name is Kieran O’Byrne, pure Cork man. I spent a brief stint of four years studying Sports Science in Carlow IT but still claim I’ve “always lived in Cork”.

With nine of us at home growing up, six brothers (yes, six!) and my two parents, leaving The Lough was always going to be something that was destined — for a bit of a “break”, by moving up the country. But still loving every single weekend when I came home. Home comforts can’t be beaten still to this day, even when my parents ask me to stop eating the food anytime I visit.

I was always interested in listening to people and looking to understand from how my parents raised me to show respect, be polite, and always look to help people where you can. 

Playing every sport there was every day of the week allowed me to marry traits together, study something I enjoyed in college, and set up my online coaching business to help people achieve their highest physical and mental standards.

Kieran O'Byrne with girlfriend Rachelle and dog Kobe.
Kieran O'Byrne with girlfriend Rachelle and dog Kobe.

Having to get knee surgery a few years ago forced me to step away from playing rugby and push me to find a passion for another sport — I found adventure racing, triathlon and ultra trail running and some people now call me a full-time energiser bunny/lunatic. However, in typical Cork fashion, cheers Mammy and Daddy for helping me do something I enjoy every day.

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

This past year, Friday nights have been the most rested where I would eat a massive carbohydrate dish, sort my trail running shoes, bag, fluids, map, plan etc. in preparation for a long run in the mountains with my friends from the “Wolf Pack” trail running group.

I spent this past year training for the Kerry Way Ultra marathon so my weekends had been 100% devoted to completing that. 

Running 190km over the most beautiful parts of the Kingdom in under 35 hours was definitely my biggest devotion and highlight since the pandemic.

Obviously a bit of relaxing with my girlfriend and our dog as well to talk about our week and how we’re looking forward to some activities at the weekend. Usually coffee, walks, cycling together, hiking, and just catching up with our closest friends.

Lie ins or up with the lark.. which is it for you?

100% an early person. As much as I hate to admit it, I get anxious if I stay in bed any later than 7.30am and feel like the day is over.

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

All the time! I hate to admit this one but as a coach, it’s something I’ve learned to live with and also love that you’ll never be able to completely switch off. A lot of my clients have been pushed out of the fat loss phase and into the realm of performance so they’re doing races every weekend or a big training session. It’s not crazy “work taking over my life” kind of work, but I will always be sending voice notes and text messages to clients over the weekend to see how they’ve got on. Support doesn’t only exist 9-5, Monday to Friday, and I’m ok with that, so is Rachelle.

If money was no object where would you head to on a weekend city break? And who would you bring with you?

If I don’t say my girlfriend Rachelle I’ll be getting the “I’m disappointed in you” speech. Would have to be somewhere in Spain. Preferably somewhere we could go for a hike/ run and rent bikes to just have fun.

Closer to home, is there some place you like to head to recharge the batteries?

Anywhere in Kerry. Climbing Carrauntoohil is something I fell in love with a few years ago and I’m always looking for an opportunity to go there whenever I can.

Do you like to catch up with family/friends at the weekend?

Every single day, not just the week- end. I’m a very outgoing person and love catching up with my friends and family — it allows me to recharge the batteries so much as well when I’m hanging around high-quality people.

Kieran O'Byrne with parents Caroline and John.
Kieran O'Byrne with parents Caroline and John.

Do you get to indulge any hobbies? Even as a spectator?

Usually, it’s either going to be that I’m racing or else running a mountain, but now it’s a long cycle every weekend with my endurance junkie sports family — East Cork Tribe. If I’m not training or racing myself, I’ll be supporting somebody else in the family of friends.

Entertain or be entertained? If it’s the latter do you have a signature dish?

Be entertained. I’m actually a shocking host — I’m far too laid back if I’m hosting people so I’m actually terrible. I do love a good cheese and crackers night with red wine so that’s the only thing I could entertain people with.

We have so many places to eat out in Cork — where are your go to spots for coffee/ lunch/ special meal?

HAS to be Lishh! They’re nearly sick of me at this stage because any chance I get I’m in there trying everything and anything new they have on the menu. I haven’t been kicked out after eight years so I suppose they know how to tolerate me at this stage.

Sunday night comes around too fast.. how do you normally spend it?

I’m a huge believer in having Sundays for family and people who matter most. I usually try to plan my week on a Saturday so I can chill Sunday and spend time with Rachelle and Kobe binge-watching on some Netflix series knowing I have the week planned in advance from Saturday. I ALWAYS get the “Is this going to be ok” freak out and then just remind myself that I’ve planned my week in advance so I can trust myself to do what I already have planned and be content on a Sunday evening rather than dreading Monday morning rolling around.

What time does your alarm clock go off on Monday morning?

My alarm is for 6.10am and I usually get out of bed at 6.30 and look forward to the day getting going. If you haven’t already, get a Lumi Light. The alarm clock slowly brightens up your room at the time you set it so you’ll wake up more energised.

Anything else you are up to right now...

Currently, I’m just resting with regards to training and trying to recover from a calf injury from the KerryWay in September. Making the most of the weekends by spending quality time with quality people and getting ready to train harder into the winter and looking forward to a few bigger races next year and pulling my clients into doing some bigger and more daring adventures as well.

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