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Co Down woman to run gruelling 24-hour race, one year after suffering suspected cardiac arrest at same event

Co Down barrister who suffered a suspected cardiac arrest during a gruelling 24-hour race last July is to take on the same challenge this Summer after making a full recovery
Marie Louise McConville

A PROMINENT Co Down barrister who suffered a suspected cardiac arrest during a gruelling 24-hour race last July is to take on the same challenge this Summer after making a full recovery.

Iryna Kennedy, who is a member of the Bar Library, was around 32 miles into the event at Victoria Park in east Belfast when she became ill on July 1 last year.

Mrs Kennedy, a well-known ultra runner, was treated by a medical team present at the race, the Energia Belfast 24, which was being held alongside the World 24-hour Running Championships.

Race organisers said the now 51-year-old came to the medical centre on the race route when she felt unwell and when her condition did not stabilise, she was transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital where she spent a number of days before she was discharged.

However, just six weeks later, the mother-of-three, who is originally from Ukraine but now lives with her family in Spa near Ballynahinch, was back on the track, running a 50k Ultra Marathon in Greenisland in Co Antrim.

Five months later, the Co Down woman - who moved to Northern Ireland from Ukraine almost 22 years ago - completed her 100th marathon, also in Greenisland on New Year's Eve.

Next month, Mrs Kennedy will enter the Energia 24-hour race again, the race where she fell ill last year.

When she completes the race, she will become the only woman to have entered all nine Energia24 races since they began in 2010.

Speaking ahead of the race, Mrs Kennedy said she doesn't remember falling ill last year, only running the race.

"(My) next memory is waking up in a high dependency unit at the Royal and being asked by the nurse `Do you remember where you were?", she said.

"I am back to full health and running."

Mrs Kennedy said she is "looking forward" to the upcoming Energia24.

"I haven't any bad memories," she said.

"I haven't had any health concerns. In fact, I got out of hospital and the following weekend went to Ukraine to visit my mother.

"I enjoy the process. It is very well organised and it is a very nice event. I have done it since my children were small. It's fond memories. It's a lovely, lovely event."

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