Catching up

You might think it’s still a time for rest and recovery for most runners after a busy 2014. However, for many it’s never too early to put a marker down or use an opportunity to gauge form. Looking around at recent news we see that Thomas Frazer (St Malachy’s AC) set a new Irish record when winning the Pistol Alcoa 50k in a two-day festival of ultra running in Tennessee. His chip time of 2:58:00 knocked 22 seconds off Galwayman Mick Molloy’s long-standing 50k track record of 2:58.22 set in 1978. More recently, Gary O’Hanlon ran 2:59.18 in the 2014 Irish Championships 50k in Donadea. Our own John Byrne won that title in 2012 with a 3:07:64 finish, still high in the Irish ratings.

In the 50th edition of Madrid’s San Silvestre Vallecana, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, Spain’s Alberto Sanchez (Sligo AC) finished fifth in 28:51 in the 10k road race on 31 December. This is a new Sligo record beating Michael Casey’s longstanding 1988 time of 29:38 at Hollymount. In his ‘Sligo Weekender’ column this week, Ray Flynn documents with detailed evidence the fall in standards of races in Ireland over the last 30 years. Ray is a High Performance walks coach and completed the Dublin Marathon again in 2014 in the 60+ category. He has a time of 4:35 for the 50k walk from 1980.

Sadly we heard on Saturday of the death of Jim Hogan, aged 81. He was a formidable and enigmatic distance runner in his day.
In the European Athletics Championships in Budapest in 1966, Hogan won the marathon title in 2:20:04 – still the only Irish man to win a European championship gold medal, albeit in an English vest Hogan, Having competed many times for Ireland including the 1964 Olympics. He switched allegiance in 1965 due to his increasing dissatisfaction with the officialdom of Irish athletics.His 2008 book “The Irishman who ran for England” is a good read, not least for showing yet again that talent and a lot of hard work makes champions.

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