ON THE RUN FROM 81- FROM THE NEW PARK TO NEW YORK!
I never meant to run that fast that day, but I swear, those cops came out of now-where! ‘’Doc! you better start running cos the cops are coming!’’ shouted Linto my co-hort in the fogging of the best orchard in Lurgan to fog, it was the one that was at the back of the local RUC station!
So the fastest ever length of North Street was done by an 11 year old, yes 9.98 seconds and so the task leader ‘Taka’ christened me DOC Rocket (Dwyer O Connor). And so my love of running (usually from someone in pursuit of me) and the adrenalin rush it gave me was born. Eager to show off my new found talent to St Peters running club, with Packie Mallon and Bobby Carville, the look of astonishment on them guys faces when I ran a length of the new park (Allen hill park) all those those years ago still amuses me to this day,
With this new training under my belt it was off to the p7 tannaghmore sports day and yip, even though I have ran some great races in some great places over the years, My proudest achievement, yip, beating the legendary Peter Mc Carron in the 75 meter egg and spoon dash! Even though there was rumors floating about Peter’s break time lemon sherbet dip being spiked with a mild laxative, there has never been any concrete proof to validate the rumors.
This blossoming talent led me to a few juvenile success in St.Paul’s sports days, and again the help of gentle encouragement (lavishing my opponents with run the guts out of you fireball gubstoppers and sherbet) and the Armagh district schools champion success (200mtrs -always a sprinter) of 81 remains my only podium place to this day!
Various youth cultures of the 80s, you name it ska-punk-new wave-punk drew me in and only sparse traing visits to St Peters ac, followed between U2, the Ramones, the Undertones concerts, my runners and tracksuits were replaced with doc martens and wrangler jackets.
Yip the legendary Pariah were a lurgan punk band, who were formed to bring joy and happiness to the youth of the town and alas mass riots followed our first gig, Their famous Big Black Gun song, a romantic tale of a local shot-gun wedding, wasn’t actually released it escaped, and so pre-marital guidance councilors became big fans of the band with a new solution to some newly engaged couples problems.
And so 25 or so years later after a generation of normalization, (uni, marriage, kids, mortgage, credit union payments and the various changes of location (dam student overdraft company hunters) redundancy, mid life strangeness, my love of running and the burning ambition to someday run the biggest run on the planet the NYC marathon , wonderment and intrigue was building.
Although trying the occasional Sunday morning jog, due to the long shifts of newspaper work on weekdays, no real traing took place until 07 when the passing of my father in the local hospice gave me the bug again and the drive to fundraise for the hospice.
So with the intend only to do 1 more race, the big one, the nyc marathon, how the heck I find myself now at having completed over 100 timed runs in the last few years I just don’t know! Well maybe I do. The cancelling of the nyc marathon in 2012 due to the bazaar hurricane sandy, meant my quest to run the 5 boroughs of NYC was postponed for a few years, and although the event was run in central park (by hospice runners who were presented medals by nyc road runners) and also in phoenix park Dublin by Irish runners who travelled to do NYC , I find myself the only Lurgan man with 3 NYC marathon medals and only actually completing the city course just once!
Although a bit bemused by those early words of encouragement when I asked for some running advice from club members ‘Fireball’ Frankie Mc Kay ( advice on training in the winter-NEVER EAT YELLOW SNOW) and extreme hill runner Michael O Hare ( don’t eat the maltesers you find up the mountain, they are not chocolates) Barry ‘Boeing’ Shanks advice- don’t forget to do the lap of honour when you do a marathon and the strangest words of advice yet, from Conor Skelton (don’t try and put your eyeliner on, when you are sitting at the back of the bus!) my passion and adrenaline for running was well and truly reborn!
So the 1st of Nov 2015 and I found myself at the start of the NYC Marathon having done about 3 years and 95 races in training, having not slept for 2 days with aprehensions and worry, I managed to put myself in the zone and run new york, surreal to say the least, but the millions of people along the route, the people I met, the sights, the sounds, the complete silence of the Jewish district, and my primary school teachers words ringing in my head, ‘Humpy Dumpty had wall issues too’, and just running down 5th ave. Finishing in central park running with people from all over the world I still pinch myself , did I do that? Have I really ran nyc marathon? Do I really think about running away now as an adult more than I did when I was a kid? Yip strange things go through your head when your at mile 22,18.104.22.168 of a marathon. A day I will never forget!
A few words of advice and encouragement for the running fraternity-
- If your out running and you see Eunan Magee going faster than you hes not going very far!
- Check Garman, Check gels, check water, and have I pooped yet?
- Always ask to see Ronnies Marathon photos before a big race just to calm and encourage you!
- If you see Gerald Heany chatting to a cheetah, hes trying to pull a fast one!
- Don’t look like a gawp in New York and ask where you get a good pair of guddies!
- Don’t rely on any running apparel ideas from Frankie Mc Kay!
- Heatons camouflage shorts don’t buy tem youl never be able to find them!
- Don’t go into the zoo in central park , not very good there’s only 1 dog in it, it’s a shitzu!
- No matter how slow you are going you are still lapping everyone on the couch!
So An awesome thanks to Jennifer, my friends, family, St Peters AC lurgan runners, and my epic nephews and nieces who supported me in my quest to run the biggest race on the planet, amazing to run down 5th avenue, Central park (very sorely) proudly wearing my St Peter’s AC Lurgan top!