We have all been shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden passing of our good friend and club member Michael McNeela.
A prolific runner over the years, Michael’s results have been documented regularly in reports on our website since it’s inception in 2010. His records show some great finishing times in endurance events at all distances from 5k to the marathon.
Like many members, Micheal came to athletics in his 30s. He joined the Castlebar Fit4Life group in 2009 and subsequently our club.
He already had a Mayo AC connection – Club Chairman John Byrne’s late mother Nancy was his Godmother.
In common with many Fit4Life ‘graduates’, as a Mayo AC club member he moved quickly to new levels of achievement. He was a great example of those who took this road into the athletics world.
One of our earliest reports shows him winning the Croí Half Marathon in 1:32 on the island of Inisbofin in 2011. The following year he improved to 1:26.45 in the Tarmonbarry half.
He was a regular competitor at the Tubbercurry St Patrick’s Day 10k, a favourite course over the years. Michael recorded one of his best 10k times there in 2012 – 38:29. He ran again last March – and is pictured with Mayo AC clubmates at the finish area on Wolf Tone Square.
In both local races and championship competition he represented Mayo AC on many M35 teams, where his performances contributed greatly to our success.
Michael had an intrepid spirit and this led him to travel abroad to compete. He enjoyed the opportunities and experiences that our beautiful sport offers, while improving his fitness level and achieving goals.
This adventurous nature brought him on a number of journeys mainly involving Nordic locations where he enjoyed the cooler climes and scenic views.
These journeys included the Nordmarka Skogsmaraton Forest marathon in 2013, the Midnight Sun marathon in Tromso 2016, the Stockholm Half in 2018 and the Helsinki City Half in 2021.
In his dedicated training regime he enjoyed a local Sunday long run where he was often joined by Colette Tuohy among others.
Michael was a lovely quiet gentle man, softly spoken with a warm smile. He was a calm, compassionate and caring person, and in recent years this led him to study and work in a profession he enjoyed.
He served the club on various race committees and his contribution was always valued, both in planning and as a volunteer.
He was part of our Dublin Marathon squad over many years – completing the 26.2 there in 2015 in 3:14.07. Again this year, his Dublin training focus involved completing the Clogher Half just a couple of weeks ago, where he ran 1:32, with his sights set on improving his Dublin 2019 finish time 3:23.49.
In athletics these details are paramount, and in Michael’s case a clear indicator of the standard of performance he achieved.
Michael’s signature running style was easily recognisable even from a distance – striding steadily with little apparent indication of the effort involved which belied his obvious pace. And he seemed to show very little evidence of fatigue at the finish line when he had just given his all.
He always tried to be the best he could be.
Michael’s passing is a very sad loss for the club. He will be greatly missed by fellow members and by his many friends in the athletics community and beyond.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam
May he rest in peace.
(A separate post will follow regarding arrangements for a Guard of Honour)