Eagle AC Member Profile: Joe Murphy

Eagle AC Member Profile:

Name: Joe Murphy

Member of Eagle AC since: January 1983

How long have you been running and what made you take it up: Cork Road Championships were on in Blarney on December 26th 1982. I was not joined a club so they would not give me a number. I met Fred Gilbert – it was my lucky day! He gave me a number from Eagle so that I could run!

Favourite thing about running: My favourite thing about running is racing which I miss at the moment

Can you remember the first Eagle AC member(s) you ran with:   I ran with Michael Doherty, Declan Gilbert and Martin Crowley.

Favourite Cork race and why:  It has to be Ballycotton!

Ultimate/Overall running goal:  My goal is to try and get back to running better times.

Tell us something most people might not know about you:  I was a scratch pitch and putt player.

Biggest heroes (sporting or non-sporting): Sonia O Sullivan or Padraig Harrington

One bit of advice you would give to someone thinking of taking up running: Join a club – you will get great support like I did!

IF you could go on a run with one elite athlete (at your pace!) who would it be and what would you ask them:

Mo Farrah – I would ask if he wants any advice about his marathon running! Ha ha!

Eagle AC Virtual Fota Cheetah Run 2021

Eagle AC are delighted to announce the launch of the ‘Virtual Fota Cheetah Run’ 2021 !

The race will take place from the 7th – 13th June.

As you may know, in May of each year, Eagle AC usually organizes the Cheetah Run in Fota Wildlife Park ,Cork. Since its inception, it has been one of the most popular races in the Cork area and is a sell out every year. Covering a distance of 5km, this is the only race of its kind in Europe, with participants running on the paths through the park. There are normally plenty of furry spectators also – everything from ostriches to wallabies to of course, the cheetahs!

Every year the funds raised from the Cheetah Run are used to support the park’s core objectives of research and conservation.

Unfortunately it is not possible to hold the race in 2021 due to Covid restrictions. So we have decided to go virtual instead! We are hoping that our 2021 race will help raise some much needed funds for Fota Wildlife Park.

The park is a charitable status organisation which is completely self-financing. It relies entirely on gate receipts and membership fees for its income. Of course, Covid 19 meant that the park had to close to the public for much of both 2020 and 2021. Even when they were allowed to open, visitor numbers were restricted. Obviously, this had a huge impact on finances. The operational running costs alone at Fota are approximately €380,000 a month. During the closures, feeding and veterinary care for the 135 species of animals had to continue – the animals in the park received the same excellent level of care as always, regardless of whether the park was open or closed.

The money raised from entries to the Virtual Fota Cheetah Run will go directly to the park.

For this year’s event, we have partnered with MyRunResults. There are a number of different race options available – something for everyone we hope! There is..

– A 5k adult race

– A 1 mile race for juveniles (U16)

– A family entry option ( 2 adults and 2 children)

As well as race entry there is also the option to purchase a variety of bespoke race merchandise – medals, t shirts and running buffs, the choice is yours! An optional, additional donation to Fota can also be made during the registration process.

All entry details and information re the race can be found at …..https://www.myrunresults.com/…/fota…/4107/details

Hopefully we will be back running the trails around Fota in May 2022, but for this year, we hope that you all enjoy our virtual edition! And that we manage to raise some much needed funds for Fota together in the process!

Aoife Cooke Runs Olympic Qualifying Time

Eagle AC would like to send huge congratulations to club member Aoife Cooke on her outstanding performance today at the Run Cheshire Marathon.

Aoife’s winning time of 2.28.36 is nearly a full minute under the Olympic qualification standard and places her 4th on the all time Irish female marathon list – one place ahead of none other than Sonia O’Sullivan! Aoife led from the start of today’s race and consistently ran 5.35 – 5.40 pace for the entire 26.2 miles.

Aoife’s time knocks a full 4 minutes off her previous PB, which she ran at the  2019 Dublin City Marathon, on her way to becoming National Champion.

We have all seen the massive amount of training that Aoife has put in to achieving her Olympic qualification goal over the last few years. Her dedication and commitment has been truly inspiring for her fellow club members. Though (unfortunately!) we all can’t run a 2.28 marathon like she can, Aoife pushes the rest of us to dream big and to achieve our goals also.

A word too for Aoife’s training ‘crew’ who had to watch nervously from home this morning instead of joining Aoife at the race. The guys have logged many hard training miles with Aoife over the last year or more, and know first hand the effort she has put in to achieving her goal today. In fact, we heard poor Damian hasn’t slept since Friday with all the nerves and excitement!!

From the race live stream, it seemed like most of the Cork running community were cheering Aoife on this morning. This just goes to show how popular Aoife is on the Cork running scene – always modest, friendly and encouraging to her fellow runners, no matter what their running level may be.

We couldn’t be prouder to call Aoife an Eagle AC member and we wish her continued success with her training over the coming months.

Enjoy the very well earned celebrations first though Aoife. Coach Stazza will surely give you a day or two off!!

Finish for Aoife in 2.28.36!
1st and 2nd Lady Home
Damian kicking off the celebrations!!!

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.

Eagle AC Member Profile : Michelle Cheung

Name: Michelle Cheung

Member of Eagle AC since:

Back in January 2019 when I was already beginning to enjoy running, I discussed with my friend Jack Murphy about us joining a club in Cork together. We naturally picked Eagle due to its great reputation and our good friend Sean Lucey was already an active member who spoke highly of the club. We tried out a few sessions and loved it. Soon after we took the plunge of signing up.

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

I started running in the early summer of 2018. I initially took up running because I wanted to lose some weight and I was also looking to improve my overall fitness. I was already going to the gym religiously but I thought regular running would be a good addition since it was cardio based. I first started running regularly with a group in work during lunch breaks and this is where it all began. Soon after I got addicted and needed my regular fix!

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Eagle AC Member Profile: Pat Twomey

Name: Pat Twomey

Member of Eagle AC since: 

At the invitation of Joe Murphy and John Quigley I joined Eagle AC in 2000. At the time I was a member of Belgooly AC but as they didn’t have a Master’s team and Eagle AC were putting one together I decided to jump ship and become an Eagle AC runner.

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

I took up running in March 1994 mainly to lose the extra weight I had put on after quitting smoking the year before. After running on my own for a few weeks I met the Carrigohane (Straight Rd) Road runners who did a long run every Sunday out around Ballincollig and the back Lee Road. They introduced me to road racing and in October that year I did my first marathon and was hooked!

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An Introduction to Ultra Running.


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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Eagle AC Member Profile: Mark Smith

Name:  Mark Smith

Member of Eagle AC since:

June 2017

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

I first took up running after work and relocations (and age) restricted my ability to train and play soccer regularly.  It was just as a means to stay fit, but no more than 15 miles a week.  I took up more serious running after the death of my son, Callum, who passed away at 6 weeks old from a rare genetic disorder.  Running became an outlet for me where I could think and try to come to terms with what had happened.  I know I broke down a lot during that time, both physically and mentally.  I decided to run a marathon in his memory and completed the Cork marathon ~6 months later for Féileacáin, a baby loss awareness charity.  I have been running ever since.

Favourite thing about running:

Two things stand out.  The freedom that comes with it.  You can go whenever you have time, where you want and for as long as you want.  You get the freedom to think clearly, away from computer screens and other distractions.  I also like the fact that all runners are equal, if you don’t train and put in the hard work you will be found out in a race.  No matter your ability there is always an opportunity to do better than what you have done before.

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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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