Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Forgotten Man of Cork Marathon John Walshe

Forty years ago last Sunday, Dick Hodgins won the Irish marathon championship in Galway. He also led Leevale to the team title, their three scoring runners finishing in the top six. This is story of the ‘Third Man’, Jerry Murphy from Douglas.

This article appeared in last night’s Evening Echo and appears here courtesy of John Walshe.

By John Walshe (Evening Echo, 21/05/2015)

At 3pm on a warm May Sunday all of 40 years ago, the Irish (BLE) National Marathon took place at Galway, on an out and back route that started and finished on Wood Quay.

After coming second the year before to Danny McDaid, Dick Hodgins was better prepared on this occasion and the Cork bank official took the national title in a time of 2:19:46, 23 seconds ahead of local man Mick Molloy with Jim McNamara of Donore in third.

Although this was his first marathon victory, Hodgins – now Meet Director of the Cork City Sports - was no stranger to Irish titles. During the previous 12 years he had won championships over a variety of distances from 1500m on the track to 15 miles on the road.

What made the Galway win all the sweeter was the fact that his Leevale club took the team award, their three scoring runners all finishing in the top six. Mike Murphy, Cork-born but then living in Manchester where he ran for the famous Salford Harriers, finished fifth in 2:24:33 and one place behind came another man named Murphy.

To the hundreds of runners now seen daily on the roads of the city and county, the name of Jerry Murphy from Douglas wouldn’t probably ring a bell. Indeed, his near neighbour in Gartan Park, John O’Leary - a regular prize winner on the road race circuit in the M70 category – would be far better known.

Yet, the man who closed in the Leevale team on that unforgettable day four decades ago has played a significant role in the story of local athletics, even though he might now be described as ‘the forgotten man of Cork marathoning.’

Sitting in his front room surrounded by prizes, plaques and photographs of a running career that has taken him around the world, Jerry Murphy casts his mind back to that personal best run of 2:24:46 on the roads of Galway.

Jerry Murphy with his framed certificate from the 1980 New York City Marathon

“I remember waking up in the morning and looking out the window and Mike Murphy saying to me ‘there’s going to be a lot of people suffering here today’. Suffering wasn’t bothering me as I had only one thing in mind, and that was to get the qualifying time to make the Irish team for one of the invitational marathons, such as Enshede or Bercham in Holland, or Kosice in Czechoslovakia.”

Jerry had run his first marathon three years before, the 1972 Olympic trial in Athlone won by his club mate, Donie Walsh. “I think I finished in around 3:15, and when I crossed the line I said this is it, never again.”

He had been running three or four years at that stage, having joined Leevale in 1969. “I played minor hurling and football with Douglas, along with a bit of soccer for Grange Vale. There was nothing else to do in those years, but when I started running, that became the main thing.”

Leevale at the time boasted some of the best marathon runners in the country, as along with Walsh and Hodgins there were also the likes of Jackie O’Callaghan, Liam Horgan and Sean Healy. Advice was easy to come by, even from the top exponents.

“When I went into the marathon I felt I was very fortunate because you had the likes of Mick Molloy, Paddy Coyle, Danny McDaid, Jim McNamara and Dessie McGann and to them there was no such thing as walls. If you wanted to be a marathon runner you put your head down and took the pain and punishment.”

Before the big city marathons that now attract the thousands, a small number of established European events would send out invitations to the national federations and Murphy was delighted to wear the green of Ireland on a number of occasions.

“I ran in Enshede and Bercham twice, along with a 25km race in Bolton and the Glasgow Marathon. Before I made the Irish team, I went to Enshede with Donie Walsh and Dick Hodgins as part of a Leevale team and we were the first European club to take part in that race as a club.”

A rather unique marathon from that era was the Barnsley Mid-Winter Marathon. Held in early December, weather conditions in the Northern English mining town weren’t always favourable. Murphy finished fourth in the 1975 race in 2:24:52, just outside his time from Galway six months before.

Back home, one of his most memorable achievements came around the roads of Rathkeale in County Limerick in May of 1979. There, on his 29th birthday, he won the Munster marathon championship in 2:28:47 with his club mate, the late Liam Horgan, second in 2:31:44 and Michael Joyce of St Finbarr’s third in 2:39:16.

The following year, along with Michael Joyce and Willie Hayes from Reenavanna Harriers (now with St Finbarr’s), Jerry traveled to New York for one of the first marathons to take place around the five boroughs of the Big Apple. With all three wearing Discover Ireland singlets, he finished in a time of 2:31:44 with Hayes close behind on 2:31:58 and Joyce recording 2:38:05.

When asked what training was like in those days, Murphy frankly replies: “I never trained, I crucified the body. I would often do a 32 mile run on a Sunday morning and then go out that evening for four miles, and if I met Dick Hodgins I could end up doing another 10.”

Working as a bank porter in Cobh at the time, he used to cycle from Douglas to Kent Station in the morning and repeat the journey each evening, before then going out training. “I’d always do around 15 miles, certainly nothing under 10, and I’d be running up to 120 miles a week at the time, even getting up to 165 miles on a few occasions. Looking back now, I realise that kind of mileage wasn’t necessary.

 “Dick Hodgins was a great help to me; we ran from home, up Maryborough Hill and out to Ringsaskiddy and back by Monkstown. When Dick eased off around 1980, he was an awful loss to me as he was a very steady runner, he would run even pace and we would talk athletics all the way.”

Another training partner was Ray Treacy (brother of John) before he took up an athletics scholarship at Providence College where he is now head coach.

“We used to do a 20 mile time-trial on a Saturday and I remember one year after running the 20 miles in the morning I traveled down to Killarney on the Verolme Dockyard bus where there was four-mile Inter Firm race that night.

“I decided to do a couple of miles warmup to see how I felt and after that I said I’d run the race and I ended up being beaten in a sprint for third. I felt great, I was flying!”

Despite a number of health problems, Jerry continued to run and race in many exotic locations, including the Sea of Galilee Marathon twice. He has also traveled as a member of the Bank of Ireland team to many countries and has completed a race of some description on every continent.

“It was after that New York Marathon of 1980 that I feel my problems began,” he says. “I didn’t realise at the time that I had diabetes and it wasn’t discovered until 20 years later but the symptoms were there and the medical people make out that I had it that long ago. Also, I was unaware at the time that I was also celiac.”

Jerry was a mainstay of many a winning Leevale cross-country team and has the unique distinction of having competed in over 30 Cork senior championships. Nowadays, he is happy to get out and do his two miles as often as he can, usually in the company of John O’Leary whom he introduced to the sport almost 40 years ago.

His love of athletics has never dimmed and it has taken him too many global championships, including a number of World Cross-Country events and most recently the European Indoor Masters.

“I always say, you can count the years and count the medals but you’ll never count the friends that I have made on five continents, the memories I have mean more to me than any medals or cups I’ve won.

“What changed my life was when in 1969 I joined the Leevale club, everything was history after that. That was the moment.”

Reminder...Events in Cork this weekend - Fri 22nd to Sun 24th May 2015

Just a reminder that there is plenty happening in Cork over over the weekend.

On Friday evening, there is the annual Kilcredan 5k in East Cork. This is another community based race with proceeds going towards the local national school. The forecast is for a dry evening. Info including race flyer, maps, photos etc in the link below.

Cork...Fri 22nd (8pm)...Kilcredan 5k road race...€8...Ballymacoda, East

Cork...Sat 23rd (9:30am)...Macroom 5k parkrun...€free...Castle Demense...
Cork...Sat 23rd (9:30am)...Clonakilty 5k parkrun...€free...Showgrounds...
Cork...Sat 23rd (9:30am)...Bere Island 5k parkrun...€free...Beara Peninsula...
Cork...Sun 24th (11am)...Leeds AFC 5k fun run/walk...€5...Ballyvolane, Cork City...
Cork...Sun 24th (1pm)...Whitechurch Macra 5k fun run/walk...€10...

The main race on Sunday is the annual Emer Casey 10k in Youghal. This is in aid of the Emer Casey Foundation which funds research into Ovarian Cancer.

Cork...Sun 24th (1:30pm)...Emer Casey 10k road race...€20...Charity race inYoughal...incl dry-fit

There is also a dry fit top for the Emer Casey race and it's shown below...

As always, check out the calendar for a list of upcoming events...

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Dublin City Marathon results...1980 to 1999

For the last few years, the Dublin City Marathon has just listed results from the last few years. Now they have added an archive of results from 1980 to 1999.

Check out this link...

Some stats for marathons in the USA and how they compare to marathon in Ireland...

The Running USA annual marathon report for 2014 was released recently and it shows the current state of marathon running in the States.

Some stats....
a) There was a record number of finishers in US marathons in 2014, up 1.8% on the previous year.

b) There were over 1200 marathons organised in the US in 2014.

c) 43% of all finishers were women which is much higher than it is in Ireland. In the 2014 Dublin City Marathon, 30.3% of the finishers were women. In Cork, the percentage of women at 21.9% was even lower as you can see from this chart below...

d) The average age of marathon finisher was 40 for men and 36 for women. I'm not sure of the Irish stats but I wouldn't expect it to be much different.

e) The average finish time for men was 4:19:27 for men and 4:44:19 for women. Taking together, this gives an average finish time of about 4h 30m.Compare that to the times below from the Cork City marathon in 2011 and 2012. You can see that the average time for a finisher in the US is about 40 minutes slower than in Cork.

Cork Marathon

There were the 15 largest marathons in the world in 2014. Note there 5 of them were in Japan.

2014 World’s Largest Marathons (finishers):
1) New York City, NY 50,386  (largest all-time)
2) Chicago, IL 40,595
3) Paris, FRA 38,575
4) London, GBR 35,878                       
5) Tokyo, JPN 34,097
6) Boston, MA 31,932
7) Berlin, GER 28,984
8) Osaka, JPN 28,076
9) Honolulu, HI 21,814
10) Los Angeles, CA 21,508
11) Naha, JPN 20,027
12) Marine Corps, Washington DC 19,689
13) Walt Disney World, FL 19,201
14) Kobe, JPN 17,027
15) Ibusuki Nanohana, JPN 16,472

To put the Dublin City marathon in context, it had 12586 finishers in 2014. Only 7 of the marathons in the USA were bigger than it which is pretty impressive.

U.S. Largest Marathons in 2014 (finishers):
1) TCS New York City, NY 50,386
2) Chicago, IL 40,595
3) Boston, MA 31,932
4) Honolulu, HI 21,814
5) ASICS LA, CA 21,508
6) Marine Corps, DC 19,689
7) Walt Disney World, FL 19,201
8) Philadelphia, PA 10,358
9) Medtronic Twin Cities, MN 8,842
10) Chevron Houston, TX 7,047

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Notice...Dan Byrne Memorial 5k trail race, Doneraile - Fri 29th May 2015

This 5k race in Doneraile Park in North Cork is always a popular one with runners. Organised by Mallow AC, it is a lovely setting for a race. While it's described as a trail race, it is in reality mostly on narrow roads and paths within Doneraile Park. It would be wrong to think that it's some sort of cross country race or that you need to run through mud or long grass.

Doneraile is located just to the north-east of Mallow so access is very easy from the N20 Cork to Limerick road. If you are coming from say South Tipperary, then it's just off the N73 Mitchelstown to Mallow road.

As for Doneraile Park itself, it really is a lovely spot. It's basically an old country estate and is now a grassland park with some small forested areas. On a sunny evening, it's a superb spot for a race.

The race entry fee is €10. The race HQ is the local community centre which is shown in the preview below.

Preview.....Directions, photos and a preview  HERE.

Start of the 2014 race...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Notice...Dunmanway 10k road race - Sun 14th June 2015

This 10k road race is coming up in Dunmanway in the heart of West Cork on Sunday, the 14th of June 2015 at 11am. This is one of the largest races in the region and has also been voted the best 10k race in Cork in the past.

The online entry fee for the race is €12 which includes chip timing. The entry fee on the day is €15. Organised by local club Doheny AC, the 10k course has been accurately measured by Jones Counter and has an AAI licence.

Considering the number of runners within the immediate catchment area and the fact that it's only a 45-50 minute drive from Cork City, the organisers hope that this year's race will be as successful as previous years.

You can pre-register by entering online HERE.

Info on the race website...

Preview......A full preview of the course with photos, maps and directions can be seen HERE 

Newly Established Athletics Club in Rosscarbery, West Cork

Back in 2011, I had a post up about a 5k run in Rosscarbery, West Cork. It was named about a famous 19th century Irish athlete named TJ O'Mahony who was known as the Rosscarbery Steam Engine. More info HERE

Since then, a local running group was formed and they have called themselves the Rosscarbery Steam Runners. They have recently joined Athletics Ireland to become a formal athletics club.

Some info from the club...

Newly Established Athletics Club in Rosscarbery.

The newly established Rosscarbery Steam Runners AC are off to a flying start with numerous runners of all levels coming out in full force at our very successful training sessions. What’s more, several athletes have already successfully competed in recent races, showing a very solid strength to the newly formed club. The club meets twice a week in the scenic Rosscarbery and are preparing for forthcoming Cork City Marathon and many more runs throughout the summer. Anyone with enquires or looking to join can email rosscarberysteamrunners AT gmail DOT com or find us on our club Facebook page. All levels are very welcome. Here’s to the up and coming athletics club in Rosscarbery! 

Weekly run every Sat morn at 7.30 am for advanced runners and 9am for beginners / improvers. Meet in layby. Intervals Wednesday @ 8pm in Warren Car Park

Monday, May 18, 2015

New cycling & walking route from Dublin to Galway under development

Back in 2013, I had a post up about an 110km Ultra in England that went from the East to West coast roughly following the route of Hadrian's Wall. I had posed the question if such a run was possible in Ireland from Dublin to Galway.

The Grand Canal goes from Dublin to the Shannon so it certainly seemed possible that a route might be viable.

Well it seems that this is exactly what is now happening and the 276km route is shown below...

Here are some of the features...

◗ A purposeful recreational facility for use by both cyclists and walkers
◗ 91km of towpath along the Royal Canal Network
◗ 45km of disused railway line from Mullingar to Athlone
◗ 140km of new build Cycleway from Athlone to Galway with new bridges
 across the rivers Shannon and Suck
◗ Regular service facilities
◗ Scenic views of diverse landscape including coastline, boglands, woodlands and watercourses
◗ Towns and cities featured on the route include Dublin, Maynooth, Mullingar, Athlone,
 Ballinasloe, Loughrea and Galway

While some charity runs go from Malin to Mizen on pubic roads, this shorter option from coast to coast looks like a safer option and could be covered easily in a week if someone opted to do a marathon per day.

The pathway will of course be a great addition to any runners along the route or anyone visiting the region.

You can find out more about the National Galway to Dublin Cycleway in this PDF document.

The website for it is

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Results & photos of the Bweeng 6k run...Sun 17th May 2015

A new running group called Bweeng Trail Blazers organised their first event today with a very successful 6k which attracted a field of over 300 people.

Tim Twomey Leevale 20.27.
Paul Moloney Mallow AC 21.03.
Finbar O Dwyer 21.05
Denise Twohig St Finbarrs 24.43
Ide Kelleher Mallow AC 26.02
Noreen Harvey Mallow AC 26.25

The full results can be seen HERE

Photos...(Updated Mon 18th)
1) Mick Dooley of Eagle AC has a gallery of photos HERE
2) Bweeng Trail Blazers have a large gallery HERE

Results of the Blackwater 10 mile road race - Sun 17th May 2015

The inaugural Blackwater 10 mile road race was held in Clondulane near Fermoy on Sunday the 17th of May 2015. For a first outing, it  attracted a field of 327 runners which is an excellent turnout.

The course itself was really split up into two halves. The first 5 miles had a gradual uphill while there was plenty of downhill running in the second half. It would be interesting to hear what people thought of the course?

First 3 men...Danny Smith, John Meade & Colin Merritt

M1 - John Meade (St Finbarr's Athletic) 53:50
M2 - Colin Merritt (Carrig Na bhFear) 54:35
M3 - Danny Smith (Ballynonty AC) 55:56
L1 - Nolaigh O'Neill (Leevale AC) 1:05:01
L2 - Ciara Murphy 1:09:49
L3 - Geraldine O'Shea (St. Finbarrs AC)1:10:09

M40 - Eoin Sugrue 57:06
M50 - Martin McCarthy 1:03:43
M60 - Maurice Tobin 1:12:11
F40 - Eithne Murphy (Midleton)
F50 - Stephanie Ilsey 1:13:05
F60 - Maggie Dunne 1:49:11

The full results can be seen HERE

1) Kieran Minihane has a large gallery HERE 

Photos...Facebook account required to view
1) Gerard O'Sullivan has a gallery HERE 
2) Ger Broderick has a gallery HERE

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Macroom parkrun is two years old...16th May 2015

The very first 5k parkrun in Cork was in Macroom back on the 18th of May 2013. It has now been going practically every Saturday morning for the last two years.

Other than a few quieter months over the winter, it's been getting a nice steady 30-50 runners per week.

What's probably more remarkable is that this is all organised on a voluntary basis and the fact it's been going for two years is a real achievement.

Notice...Belle of Ballincollig 5k road race - Thurs 4th June 2015

This 5k race is coming up in the town of Ballincollig on Thursday the 4th of June 2015 and should be of interest to a lot of people. The course has an Athletics Ireland permit and has been accurately measured. Entries will be taken in the Ballincollig GAA Club from 6pm on the evening with the race starting at 8pm. Refreshments and prizes afterwards in the GAA Pavilion.

Route in Ballincollig....

Preview.....A full preview of the course with photos can be seen HERE

Check out the Belle of Ballincollig 5k race website for details...

Updated results for the John Buckley Sports Graded Track & Field League...Wed 13th May 2015

The first round of the John Buckley Sports Graded Track & Field League was held last Wednesday 13th of May 2015. The results have now been updated and you'll find them along with previous results at

Bweeng 6k fun run...Sun 17th May 2015

For anyone not doing the Blackwater 10 mile or Castleisland 10 mile on Sunday, this might be of interest.

A new running club called Bweeng Trail Blazers are organising a 6km fun run in the village of Bweeng on Sunday the 17th of May at 12 noon. Bweeng is a small village a few miles west of Grenagh.

More info at

Reminder...Blackwater 10 mile on Sun 17th May 2015

Just a reminder that you can still enter the Blackwater 10 mile near Fermoy which is on Sunday the 17th of May.

From the organisers....IMPORTANT RACE NOTICE: Due to demand online registration has been extended until midnight Saturday May 16th - the night before the race - at the rate of €20 plus transaction fee. Postal entry is now closed.

There will be limited registration on the day but at the higher rate of €25 so we would encourage anyone still planning to race to enter online at the link below.

All finishers will receive a high-tech T-shirt.

We will have pacers for the following times…65 mins, 70 mins, 75 mins, 80 mins, 90 mins and 100 mins.

Go to