Eiríkur Ingi Jóhannsson of Iceland in the 2017 Race Around Ireland.

Some of the toughest sportsmen and women in world sport are making plans and gathering crew members ahead of the 10th edition of Race Around Ireland, Europe’s most demanding ultracycling race.

Registration opens today for Race Around Ireland 2018 and its companion event, the Irish Ultra Challenge ahead of the non-stop bike races next August.

Solo riders and teams of two, four and eight riders are training hard for the non-stop race which ranks among the toughest endurance athletic challenges in world sport.

Only a handful of solo riders typically last the course which tests not just their cycling ability on perhaps the most rugged course presented in ultracycling, but also their talent for sleep deprivation.

Riders race for up to five days to complete a circumnavigation of the island which begins in Trim and ends back in Moynalty at the conclusion of more than 2150km of cycling.

Competitors make their own choice about when to rest and the winning riders will often make do with a ration of less than an hour of sleep per day.

The solo riders are participating in one of the qualifying events for the world famous Race Across America or RAAM, the event which began the ultra cycling craze in the 1980s.

Race Around Ireland is acknowledged as one of the few races which can stand alongside the US event as among the most demanding of its kind.

For the teams and support crews which take part, Race Around Ireland will inevitably become a defining moment in their sporting lives and the event helps forge lifelong bonds among team members.

Race Around Ireland ventures into the most challenging topography on the island as it winds its way anticlockwise through Northern Ireland to Donegal, down the Wild Atlantic Way to Kerry and Cork before heading north once again for the final tests in the Wicklow Mountains.

This year’s solo event was won by Nicole Reist of Switzerland while the 1100km Irish Ultra Challenge event which is primarily a first introduction to ultracycling was won by Jason Black.

An early bird discount price is available for fully paid entries while entrants can also register and secure their place in either of the races by paying a deposit.

Entries are limited in all categories for both events which were over subscribed in 2017.

For full details on Race Around Ireland and Irish Ultra Challenge see http://racearoundireland.com/

For registration see http://racearoundireland.com/register