When a club has been around for 120 years and some of its members for almost half that time, then it’s time to celebrate.
That’s what Donore Harriers is planning to do on Saturday evening when the great Jim McNamara gets the “This Is You Life” treatment at a special function in the Spa Hotel, Lucan.
Jim Mac, as he is universally known, was a mainstay of the Donore men’s distance team in its heyday from the mid-1950s to the early 70s. He started running at the age of 18 when he followed a group of friends from the St Francis Boxing Club into a new running club by the same name. He soon joined Donore, then the most successful club in Dublin.
Looking after the Donore squad was Eddie Hogan, another mythic figure in Dublin athletics, who saw his teams win an unprecendented 16 national cross-county titles in a row.
McNamara’s career took off in the early 1960s and he won his first irish title, over three miles, in 1964. In this period, he represented Ireland four times at the World Cross-Country Championships and also dabbled in steeplechase, turning out at the Eurocup meet in Santry.
But it was on the roads that McNamara truly shone. In 1976, at the age of 37, he finished second at the National Marathon in Limirick behind Danny McDaid, who had run the Munich Olympics four years earlier. McDaid ran 2:13.16 and McNamara 2:14.54 and both booked their places at the Montreal Olympics. In Montreal, McNamara finished 39th in in 2:24.57; three places ahead of McDaid.
When he turned 40, McNamara moved on to a new career as one of this country’s most successful ever master athletes. Over a long career, he won 11 gold, five silver and four bronze medals at World and European level and held the world M45 record for 1500m. His most recent record came in 2010 when he set an Irish M70 record for 5km.
These days, “Gentleman Jim” is better known as the dedicated coach of the Donore women’s squad. His one remaining ambition is to see “the girls” win a national cross-country title.
Long may he flourish!
If you happen to be driving in north Leinster next week, you may spot a lonely figure running along the roads.
Ultra runner Tom McGrath is a man with a long and distinguished record. His most notable achievement was running 3,046 across the USA on his honeymoon in 1977, with his wife driving the back-up camper van. In 1983, he ran 650 miles around Ireland in seven days. In recent years, he has run around Ulster and Connacht for charity and now it’s Leinster’s turn. Tom is inviting local runners to come and join him next week. He starts in Dublin next Monday heading for Navan, then Dundalk, Carrickmacross, Kells, Mullingar and Enfield, arriving back in Dublin on Saturday May 25. All funds raised go to Crumlin Children’s Hospital; details www.cmrf.org/fundraiser/show?id=2763.
Another former great of Irish athletics is honoured on Saturday when the Danny McDaid Athletics Track is officially opened in Letterkenny.
Highlights of McDaid’s career include the Olympics of 1972 and 1974 and his 11th at the 1979 World Cross-Country Championships in Limerick on the day John Treacy retained his world title. Honouring McDaid’s achievements in a top-class event will be the cream of Irish athletics including Fionnuala Britton in the 300m, Brian Gregan 400m, local boy Mark English 800m and John Travers men’s 3000m. In the feature mile, Darren McBrearty hopes to record the first sub- four-minute mile in Donegal, with a strong international field also invited. Lining out in the first ever women’s one-hour track race to be held in this country is Maria McCambridge.
Club runners turned out to support the Lucan 5km, with Raheny’s Conor Dooney coming home first in 15 mins 28 secs and DSD’s Sarah Mulligan the first woman in 17 mins 24 secs. At the Malahide Parkrun, Emmett Dunleavy improved the course record to 15 mins 25 secs, while in Marlay Park, Gladys Ganiel O’Neil was sixth overall and first woman in a new women’s course record of 17 mins 36 secs.
In the Phoenix Park, Mark Christie of Mullingar Harriers won the Fit City 10km after a long break from running. His time was 30 mins 17 secs. Nine seconds adrift was MSB’s John Coghlan with Dan Mulhare of Portlaoise third in 30.34 and Clonliffe’s Sergiu Ciobanu fourth ahead of Derry-based Kenyan Freddy Sittuk. Raheny’s Aoife Talty was sixth overall and first woman in 35 mins 11 secs. A day earlier, also in the Phoenix Park, about 7,000 has turned out for the Pieta House Darkness into Light 5km.
Gary O’Hanlon and Pauline Curley won the Run Kildare Marathon, while abroad, Barbara Sanchez of Raheny finished 11th in the Prague Marathon in 2:42.03. It was her third marathon in as many months – she ran 2:37.14 in Seville and 2:38.41 in Rotterdam
Big race this weekend is Sunday’s Terenure 5-Mile (11am) and entry is still open for runners, walkers and joggers of all standards. With possibly the flattest course in Dublin, fast times are guaranteed but an even bigger draw is the race “afters” in Terenure College. Here all finishers can replace their lost energy with an array of hot drinks, sandwiches, biscuits and other goodies. The race is organised by Sportsworld Running Club and all profits from the race go to the Jack and Jill Foundation. Details www.terenure5mile.com