"I just haven't stopped running since!" - interviews by Tina NeylonOn Monday June 4 about 8,000 people will participate in Cork City Marathon. Some will be running, others jogging or walking. They’ll take part as individuals in the Full Marathon or Half Marathon, or as team members in the Relay which this year includes a Youth Category for the first time. They will be travelling to Cork from all over Ireland and from overseas – from the UK, Europe, USA, even Australia.
There are almost as many reasons for taking part as there are participants. For some it is to keep fit, lose weight, for others it’s for the enjoyment, to achieve a dream, fulfil a personal goal. Some regularly take part in races, for others it’s the first time. Many do so to raise funds and to increase awareness of their favoured charity – which may be in memory of a friend or relative. Among the charities this year are the well-known, including the Irish Cancer Society, St Vincent de Paul, Alzheimer’s, the Irish Kidney Association to mention a few, but others may be less familiar.
John Hayes (39) from Youghal is running the full 26.2 mile course to raise awareness & funding for Ovacare, a new charity set up by his sister-in-law, a survivor of Ovarian Cancer. “She was diagnosed with it when she was in her twenties and pregnant with her first child,” he explains. “Thank God, she’s now fine, but she felt at the time that there wasn’t enough out there, that there didn’t seem to be anyone she could talk to who had gone through it. So she got a few women together, including my wife, and they’re just setting up Ovacare.” He’s delighted to report that Miriam O’Callaghan has agreed to be the charity’s patron. “Their aim is to build awareness of the disease and offer support to women suffering. They had a Patients’ Day last month in Cork and that was a success. They’re just setting up the website www.ovacare.com so people should take a look.” Five of John’s family are also running as a Relay Team for the same cause.
It’s John’s first time taking part in a marathon. “I wouldn’t classify myself as a runner, I started when I’d had surgery on my knee a year and a half ago and had to build it up. I have Osteoporosis & Arthritis, but medication sorts all that out. The Emer Casey Memorial 10k in Youghal last year was the first time I’d taken part in a race, and I just haven’t stopped running since.”
For Denzil Jacobs (34) from Tullamore, Co Offaly, it’s different - the race on June 4 will be the fortieth marathon he’s taken part in. Originally from Capetown, South Africa, Denzil has been living in Ireland for over a decade. “I was working in London before then, and just didn’t like city life. When I got job offers from Ireland I thought I’d accept one as long as it wasn’t in Dublin, and I’m very happy here,” he says. He’s an Occupational Therapist, specialising in Autism & Down’s Syndrome. “My job is to help people to reach their maximum function, to make them as independent as possible, using a number of techniques.”
Until he took part in last year’s Cork City Marathon, Denzil had taken a five year break from running. “I absolutely loved it, it was the best marathon I’ve ever run. The experience was such a joyful one, with its vibrancy, the friendliness of all the people, the support of the spectators, a great race organisation, and the beautiful course. I want to come back to enjoy it again and to improve on my time.”
Last year he raised funds for The Saplings School for Children with Autism in Carlow; this year he’s hoping to make some money for Down’s Syndrome.
Gary Angel (52) is travelling from Gidgegannup, in the hills just east of Perth, Western Australia, where he works for the State Government as a policy officer developing & improving services to remote Aboriginal communities. “I’m a member of the West Australian Marathon Club. I really love running. I’m much slower than I was in my 20s but still find meaning in it all, and love to race and compete. I loved it in my 20s then let it all slip for two decades, and picked it up again at about age 49,” he says. “I was 50 when I ran the Cork City Marathon in 2010.”
His wife Eithne Molloy is from Schull, West Cork, and has lived in Perth for 26 years. She works for the Western Australian State Government like Gary, as Director of Nursing Services in the Prison System. “We come to Ireland to visit her family every two to three years,” he says. “Her family has run the ferry to Cape Clear for many years. Eithne didn’t come with me in 2010, but she’s with me for this trip as we both have significant blocks of leave from our jobs.”
Like Denzil, he is enthusiastic about Cork City Marathon. “I loved it in 2010 because of its great atmosphere and it was so well organised. The Cork people were cheering, clapping, singing, and encouraging us all the way.”
They’ll be doing so again on Bank Holiday Monday June 4.
Interviews and article by Tina Neylon. Text was published in the Evening Echo 18-5-2012.