Former SBG sparring partner of Conor McGregor takes on Ireland's toughest endurance race
At UFC 194, in Las Vegas, Conor McGregor put months and months of training into 13 devastating seconds of his featherweight title win over Jose Aldo.
This weekend, in Donegal, his former training partner will hope his training can get him over the finish line in under 24 hours.
This weekend marks the third staging of The Race. Established in 2014 by Irish adventurers David Burns and Maghnus Collins, the ‘ultra-endurance’ race has already been recognised internationally as as one of the 10 toughest events on the planet.
The Race pits competitors against a 250-kilometre course taking them across Ireland’s most rugged, remote and challenging terrain. Competitors must run a half marathon, cycle 175 km, paddle 15 km and climb 800 vertical metres before finishing with a full marathon through the night.
All of the above must be completed in just 24 hours.
SportsJOE caught up with Paul Syder, who has traded MMA in the octagon for even greater challenges in the great wide open.
What motivated you to get involved in The Race this year?
The Race is one of the most mentally and physically challenging races in the world. That in itself was enough to motivate me. You've got to challenge yourself I feel and well, it doesn't get much tougher than this, not in Ireland anyway.
What other endurance events have you tried out?
I'm not an endurance athlete at all. My 'endurance' events stretch as far as triathlons, a few marathons, a couple of Adventure Races and that's pretty much it. I'm so far out of my depth in this race, but that's what makes it so enticing.
We hear you have a background in MMA. Is there a particular gym you train in? Have you followed the sport for long?
I am an avid MMA fan. Many years ago, I used to train In Straight Blast Gym when it was on the Long Mile Road in Dublin. Long before Conor McGregor was a household name, we all used to train together under the watchful eye of John Kavanagh. That was back in around 2007 and 2008.
Does such training help prepare you for endurance events in any way?
Most definitely, MMA teaches you discipline that you can use in everyday life. Jiu-Jit Su in particular, thought me about the importance of controlling your mind when under pressure, and how flexibility and body movement will benefit you in every aspect of your life, for the rest of your life.
I don't train in MMA anymore but, without a doubt, that training has played a part in getting me to where I am today.
— The Race (@TheRace_ie) March 2, 2016
How meticulous do you have to be with preparing gear/food/fluids?
I believe you have to know and understand how your body works. It's definitely a case of trial and error in what you body can absorb and how quickly it can digest the food.
As for the gear, it's Donegal so I don't think I will be needing the sun cream somehow! I work for An Post, though, so being out in all types of weather is something I've become accustomed to.
I do believe that it is best to prepare as best you can but have an 'adaptable mindset'. I adapt to whatever situation I find myself in and continue from there.
What would a good result be for you this weekend?
A good result for me would be to get around this course in time to see Conor McGregor win at UFC 196.
All going well, I will have just under 24 hours to do that... sounds good to me.
For more on the event, check out The Race.