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Local athlete gearing up for 24-hour race against a team of horses

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Local athlete gearing up for 24-hour race against a team of horses thumbnailStevey McGeown

MODERN era Cúchulainn, Milford marathon runner supreme Stevey McGeown has been powering up those legs as he prepares to re-enact a mythical race against horses which took place at Aonach Mhacha near Armagh City over 2000 years ago.

The devious men of Ulster, The Red Branch Warriors, forced the heavily pregnant Macha to race against the king's horses for sport with devastating consequences and the laying of the ancient curse of Macha.

Some say the curse of Macha still echoes across Ulster today rendering the men weak and useless at the time of greatest need.

Stevey will surely put all that right on June 30 when he restores the good name of the men of Ulster whilst raising some much needed money for the excellent cause of Run for Autism.

Here is a short explanation, taken from 'Cuchulainn: Ulster's Greatest Hero' of what happened two millennia ago in ancient and mythological Armagh - Macha it was she who gave her name to Armagh - Ard Mhacha and it was her curse which left Cúchulainn to defend the province of Ulster single-handedly.

'Macha plays an important role in the events leading up to the Táin, for it was the tragic events that befell her which explain the state of helplessness afflicting the Men of Ulster in their hour of need.

Her husband is overheard one day boasting about his wife's running prowess. Conchúr and his warriors force this apparently hapless woman to race against the swiftest horses in Ulster.

She, being heavily pregnant, pleads with the Men of Ulster not to proceed with this cruel madness, but they insist. The race is held and Macha wins.

The severity of such a competition takes so much out of her that she collapses and dies at the finish line, giving birth to twins......... In the throes of death Macha places a curse on the warriors of Ulster that they would endure the weakness of childbirth, an ceas naíonna, every time Ulster is in peril.

And it is under this very affliction we find the Men of Ulster, as Méabh and Ailill and their army and allies move northwards to seize the Brown Bull of Cooley.

As Conchúr and the warriors of Ulster lay smitten by the curse of Macha, there is no one to stand in the gap of danger against the might of Méabh's host except the super warrior Cúchulainn, who is not of Ulster stock but from Muirtheimhne, an area on the edge of Ulster to the north of Dundalk.

Early in life this hero singled himself out with his boyhood deeds and acts of great courage, and this is how he is to play out his extraordinary course in life.....'

So when Stevey McGeown runs against the horses in later this month it will certainly redress this ancient debt owed by the men of Ulster (the Red Branch Heroes) and maybe appease Macha so that in turn she may lift her ancient curse - an ceas naíonna - which afflicts only men. Surely this will be good news for the woman of Ulster too as hence forth no task big or small will remain undone due the weakness of the Curse of Macha.

Stevey will run a continuous two-mile loop of the Palace Desmesne for 24 hours. Instead of running against an athlete Stevey will be lining up against a horse - actually several horses for health and safety reasons.

It's an idea that Stevey has been developing ever since he completed his 100 Marathons in 100 Days challenge.

Stevey has been stapping up his training in recent weeks and before the big day will have completed a training run from Armagh to Dublin.

The 24-hour event will also be a family festival with lots of activities, entertainment and music ongoing throughout the challenge.

"Last time I was passing through places so it was hard for big crowds to come. This time we will be having a bit of a party at the Palace grounds with attrac tions for all ages," said Stevey.

All are welcome to come along and join in the festivities.

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