Alex O’Shea Triumphs in Beyond the Ultimate Ice Ultra 2024

Victory in Gruelling Arctic Ultra Marathon...

Credit: Beyond The Ultimate _ Mikkel Beisner

The Beyond the Ultimate Ice Ultra 2024 has once again proven itself to be one of the world’s most challenging and awe-inspiring ultra marathons. Set against the stunning backdrop of Swedish Lapland in the Arctic Circle, Europe’s last great wilderness, this year’s race offered an unparalleled adventure through the heartland of the indigenous Sámi people.

The Beyond the Ultimate Ice Ultra is one of four prestigious events in the BTU Global Race Series where athletes test themselves against the extreme environments of the Arctic, the Amazon Jungle, the Tian Shan Mountains and the Namib Desert.

Credit: Beyond The Ultimate _ Mikkel Beisner

A Journey Through the Arctic

From the starting line at the Stora Sjöfallet Mountain Lodge to the finish in Jokkmokk, 39 intrepid runners from around the world embarked on a 230 km journey across vast snowfields, windswept mountains, and frozen lakes, testing their limits against some of the harshest conditions on Earth. Runners wore snowshoes, carried all of their equipment, and slept in a mixture of cabins and teepees in temperatures as low as -30°C.

Credit: Beyond The Ultimate _ Mikkel Beisner

Celebrating the Victorious

Cork runner Alex O’Shea IRE (completing in a total time of 32 hours 31 minutes), with his seasoned experience and meticulous preparation, fended off strong competition from George Bath GBR (34 hours 38 mins overall) in the latter stages to take the overall and Men’s win.

The fight for third place was a close run, with Jonathan Harman GBR, Bert Gossey BELG, Tarryn Gordon-Bennett ZAF and Andre Erasmus ZAF all at one point looking like they might be in contention, but with a determined push in the penultimate stage, Juan Fernandez Catlina ESP edged the competition, rounding out the 2024 podium.

Credit: Beyond The Ultimate _ Mikkel Beisner

Tarryn Gordon-Bennett ZAF (39 hours 9 minutes total), the Women’s winner and 6th overall, showcased remarkable endurance and tenacity, crossing the finish line a whopping 12 hours ahead of second-placed Emma Roper GBR. The hotly contested final step on the podium was filled by Sia Kindberg AUS, who fended off Olivia Keating IRE and Rosie Burnham GBR, coming across the line in 56 hours 52 minutes.

Alex O Shea
Credit: Beyond The Ultimate _ Mikkel Beisner

Cork runner Alex O’Shea, who is no stranger to challenges and high-stakes events, having accomplished extraordinary feats such as completing 32 marathons across 32 countries and representing Ireland at both European and World Ultra Championships, gave the following quote after the race:

“The race was somewhere between a race and an Arctic Expedition to put it into context. The scenery was amazing, but without the crew’s warmth and the amazing other runners, the event would be just a lonely, icy wilderness. While I may have won the race, the true heroes were those who were at the other end of the leaderboard, putting in so many more hours on their feet.

“The race didn’t disappoint, I got everything I could have dreamed of. Ice hanging off my beard, blizzard snow falling around me and a huge temperature variation around every corner. People can do amazing things with the right frame of mind and preparation.”

Credit: Beyond The Ultimate _ Mikkel Beisner

Beyond the Ultimate Race Director Kris King commented:

“Alex was a class act from start to finish. His preparation was impeccable, and he demonstrated exceptional professionalism throughout, helping him navigate the challenges of the Arctic environment with resilience. Congratulations from all of us at Beyond the Ultimate on his outstanding victory.”

Credit: Beyond The Ultimate _ Mikkel Beisner

Special Mentions

The race was filled with dramatic moments, including a wrong turn by the front runners on the final stage and extraordinary performances across the board. 

Special mentions go to Olivia Keating IRE for finishing the race this year after failing to complete the full distance the last time she tried. 

Credit: Beyond The Ultimate _ Mikkel Beisner

Tian Watson TT, who dodged the checkpoint cut-off time by just 23 seconds on Stage One, completed the ultimate underdog story. The Trinbagonian battled through subzero conditions, long Arctic nights, and immeasurable mental pressure, eventually completing the course with an overall time of 66 hours 17 minutes. 

Alongside him was another runner who fought back from the brink, Dan-Emilian Croitoru PE. Dan-Emilian made the final cut-off by just 3 minutes and ran until 2:46 AM on Stage Four, battling pitch darkness and creeping fatigue, and was our final runner across the line on Stage Five, closing out the competition with a first-class example of grit and determination.

Credit: Beyond The Ultimate _ Mikkel Beisner

Event Highlights:

THE RACE: The Ice Ultra is one of four events within the BTU Global Race Series. It is a 230 km race over 5 days across the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland. As a self-sufficient race, runners are responsible for carrying all the kit they need to get through each stage, including snow shoes, all food, safety equipment, medical supplies and water. The stages are 50km, 42km, 42km, 65km and 15km.

The BTU Global Race Series is made up of four races set in the most remote and hostile environments on earth. The four races are the Ice Ultra set in the Arctic Circle, the Jungle Ultra set in the Amazon Rainforest, the Desert Ultra set in the Namib Desert and the Mountain Ultra set in the Tian Shan Mountains of Kyrgyzstan.

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