Member Profile: Mark Murphy

Name: Mark Murphy 

Member of Eagle AC since:  2016


How long have you been running what made you take it up:

I started running in 2011. I started running because my god daughter Béibhinn O Connor was born with a serious heart defect. At the time she needed a surgery which would require funding. So I decided I would do something crazy and run the Cork City Marathon to raise what I could. At the time some of my friends laughed because they couldn’t imagine me finishing. But they soon got behind me and with Béibhinns inspiration I did run my first marathon in Cork in 2012. Also brook the 4hr barrier which was brilliant, cut it close though 3:59. By the time the marathon came around Béibhinns brilliant parents Eoin and Irene had secured funding through the HSE for the surgery. So I donated the money I raised to the heart ward in Crumlin Children’s hospital 


Favourite thing about running:

My favourite things about running are the headspace you get while running. The fact that you only need to compete against yourself and your own goals and times. Also I love being outside and the obvious health benefits running gives you. 


Favourite race distance to run:

My favourite distance to run is the Marathon. I love the training for a marathon over a 12 to 14 week plan, the way you can see week by week improvement if you do it right. But most of all I love the event itself, it really feels like a big deal when you arrive at the start line and you know you will normally get out of it what you put into it. 


What is your main goal for this year:

To be honest my biggest goal for this year is to get back running constantly and improving. The last 18 months has been the most difficult in my life
Béibhinn sadly passed away in September 2020 at 9 years of age due to complications after her latest heat surgery. I can’t tell how much that rocked our world, and changed our lives forever. Béibhinn is an inspiration to us all and her parents Eoin and Irene are absolutely amazing. Béibhinn will never be forgotten and now she even has a charity formed in her name  www.theheartangle.com.

7 months after Béibhinn passed, in April 2021 my Dad died at the age of 67. My dad to me was also a very good friend and work colleague and you could say life coach, always supportive and on my side in a crises. We were left in shock and devastation after his passing.

So my goal this year is to get back racing and to use the inspiration from Béibhinn and my Dad to live life to the fullest while we can. 

I will be Running Boston Marathon this weekend in their honor, it will be a very emotional race for me but I hope I do them proud.

Your best race/most memorable racing moment to date:

My best race was probably the Berlin marathon in 2019. Everything seem to click on the day, I felt good throughout which I never experienced in a marathon before. So I felt in that race the I got what my training deserved which often doesn’t happen in a marathon. 

My most memorable racing experience was my first marathon in Cork in 2012. When I came (fell) across the finish line I saw all of my close family and friends including Béibhinn and my Dad. 


Tell us something most people might not know about you:


Biggest heroes (sporting or non-sporting):

Well my biggest heroes in my life would be Béibhinn and her parents Eoin and Irene. If you met Béibhinn you would understand why, she was dealt a really difficult hand from day one. She never let it set her back though. She was always smiling and happy and you would never know she was sick because she didn’t show it, ever. She has also an amazing group of friends. Her mom and dad really amaze me with there strength and determination that Béibhinn will not be forgotten and she will continue to do good. They raised around 100k for The Make A Wise charity in Béibhinns 6 months after she passed. Heroes doesn’t even come close to describing them.


One bit of advice you would give to someone thinking of taking up running:

My advise to someone taking up running is be patient, don’t let the knocks get you down. Take it easy on the easy days and don’t push it in training if your body says no. Thake a step back and go again.

3 things you would take with you onto a desert island:

 I would take my runners ofcouse, lol. I would definitely bring an ipod, really love listening to music, and my wife ofcourse 😉. Who it has to be said without her I would never be able to do what I really love doing. 

Marathon and ultra marathon training on Bere Island

Johanna Riddell is a member of Eagle since July 2020
She is originally from London and is now living on Bere Island.

 
Started running at school around 13 years of age mostly cross country and absolutely loved it and probably the only time I  “broke tape”, just the vast openness, fresh air and muck. Move onwards to 2015 and decided to try the Bere Island Parkrun out out, really enjoyed it and soon my love of running returned not to mention I was so eager to get out the door on 1st January that I cooked the turkey upside down!
Had to take break from running that year due to tearing my meniscus and after keyhole surgery in November 2105, where the surgeon also discovered I  had osteoarthritis of same knee, surgeon said no more running – I just won’t tell him what I’ve ran since ha ha.


So, I decided to enter my first marathon  being the Dublin marathon in 2016 due to the year that was in it. I also signed up to the San Francisco marathon and after running the 10K in Galway on the day of my cousins wedding, sure enough I signed up to the Galway marathon, so three marathons signed up before I even ran one!


The iconic San Francisco marathon in 2017 was spectacular, amazing views and unrivaled atmosphere from start to finish. The highlight was an early start to the marathon around 5am and running over the Golden Gate Bridge was amazing. I decided after that year to enter the Connemara 64K Ultra, a challenge more than anything and it was tough no doubt about it and the hill from the west at the end was brutal, but just being out on the roads winding around Connemara was breathtaking I just loved it me and the outdoors for hours so I say my distance is the longer as it clears the head for sure and the people you run with are just brilliant.


Fast forward to the famous year in history 2020 – lockdown! So when you are in lockdown on an island 10k x 3k, I just carried on training for the marathons London, Berlin an New York but were canceled later on due to the pandemic. I also hired a run coach and fine tuned my running it certainly is paying off. I was the first to complete a marathon on the island being the London virtual and three more after that  and then the Donadea 50K ultra, again first to complete the distance on the island, fairly hard as the island isn’t flat by any means but delighted to get under 5 hours. Also into double digits of marathons since 2016.


I have met a great bunch of runners in Cork and through the club itself, great community, support and encouragement. 
Run a busy acupuncture clinic in Castletownbere  – Beara Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, plus after each run it’s great to self treat.
Also waiting to do a 13,000 ft parachute jump for the last two years but the weather wasn’t playing ball everytime we went to Offaly,  so hopefully soon I will get complete that.

An Introduction to Ultra Running.

Prologue

23rd May 2014

“Don’t worry, there’s 29 running it altogether, so I won’t be alone” “That’s what worries me, there’s only 29 people in the whole country who think this is normal”

It is 10 to midnight on Friday night and I am standing in the car park of Marley Park next to the board denoting the start/end of the Wicklow Way, talking to my wife on the phone, which is enclosed in a zip-lock bag to protect it for the rain that has been steadily falling for the evening. I had just been dropped off by Rob, my brother in law, who said on arrival

“You have 20 minutes to change your mind, i’ll even drive you to Clonegal tomorrow to pick up your car”. I had resisted the temptation to accept and am now standing with 28 other seasoned nutters, race organisers and assorted support crews……….

I was about to embark on a 127k adventure across the Dublin and Wicklow mountains to the little know village of Clonegal in County Wexford as part of the Wicklow Way Ultra.

Welcome to the world of ultrarunning

At mile 64, only 36 miles to go

How did I end up here?

When I started running in 2006 to train for the once in a lifetime marathon I though the marathon was the ultimate limit, beyond the boundary of what was physically possible – after all we were told that we had to go through (or more likely hit) “the wall” before we got to the finish line and sure enough I hit the wall on my very first marathon, said “never again” for about a week and came back for some more punishment six months later. I had never heard of ultra running, I thought I had reached the boundary of human endeavour and spent the next few years pushing at the only running boundary I knew – the PB. And while this satisfied my thirst for improvement and better times it was the distance boundary that began to intrigue me more and more.

When I eventually did push the distance boundary (Connemara 39.3 in April 2010) I thought that was it, I could never even contemplate running another mile, let alone the 11 that would take me up to 50 miles. I had read race reports of guys running 100 miles and how they were destroyed after them and though that was way out of my league – funny how when we break boundaries we end up setting new ones.

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Track and Field running by Ken Higgs

I got into running during the 1980’s running boom and in 1983 I joined the newly-formed Bray Runners club in County Wicklow. The club was totally focused on long distance running but after three agonising marathons I finally realised marathon running wasn’t for me. In 1986, I moved to Cork to start a new job in UCC where I joined the Staff AC , but shortly afterwards I decided to pack in running all together. Fast forward 27 years to 2013 and early retirement. It was time to start running again. So, I joined a local running club Carrigaline Runners and the UCC Staff AC (again). In late 2015, a group of us transferred to Eagle AC which in the long run turned out to be a really great decision. Perhaps I should have said ‘in the short run’, because since joining the club I have discovered I am much better suited to the shorter stuff.

I took up track racing in 2018 with no previous background or experience. The seed of an idea was planted at a 5k road race in Coolagown. I had been trailing behind two runners in my age group, then with 200m to go I produced a sprint finish and claimed the age category win. John Desmond (who had been lurking near the finish with his camera) came up to me afterwards and said I should give track racing a go. Several months later,  Captain Damian was encouraging club members to go to Nenagh for the Munster Masters Indoor Track Championships , so the time had come to give it a go. I really enjoyed it and ran surprisingly well in the 800 and 1500m.So a month later I decided to try the National Master Indoors in Athlone. That turned out to be great too. I got such a buzz in the 800m race. I was racing against a guy who a few weeks earlier had won the National Masters XC in my age group ( I was a good 2 minutes behind him), but on the track I out sprinted him over the last lap to win the race. I was totally hooked! So I am now part of a small but dedicated group of Eagles who enjoy flying the club flag at provincial and national track championships.

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Eagle AC-Trail running by Olga O’Sullivan

Despite having grown up in a large city, I should start with the fact that I’m an outdoor nut rather than a typical road runner. In addition to running, I love hiking, climbing, surfing and open water swimming. The mountains and ocean are my happy place. I never use a treadmill or go to the gym; vertigo aside, the indoor exercise just doesn’t do it for me.

Not sure why I’m here writing this article, when there are many club members, who are better trail runners than me, and we probably crossed paths at the IMRA races! With the unexpected circumstances, which we found ourselves in over the last 2 years, I find more and more road runners are willing to try trails, and I may even be guilty of converting some of them.

I love running alone, but I also enjoy sharing my love for the mountains with others. McGillycuddy Reeks in Kerry is my favourite playground, from the remote Lough Duff circuit to the Eastern reeks and Coomloughra horseshoe, and Carrauntoohil from every direction. However, due to the recent lockdowns, I perused every possible bit of trails closer to home. There are hidden gems everywhere, you just need to look for them. After the recent loss of my husband, who loved the woodlands, I’ve spent many hours running in the woods, where, surrounded by the trees, you can cry without being judged and remember without being interrupted.

I find solace in running far away from civilisation, alone with my thoughts. The air is cool, damp and clean. You are surrounded by the beautiful, lush, green, yellow, grey and brown hues, and sounds of nature: the trickling of a distant waterfall, birds singing, goats & sheep calling out to each other, or on a stormy day, the wind howling and drowning out everything else! If you time your run to witness a sunrise or a sunset, the experience is unparallel; it stays with you.

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