Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Guest article...Athletics in Cork mourn the passing of Holden

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Guest article...Athletics in Cork mourn the passing of Holden

The following article appeared in the Evening Echo on Tuesday, the 7th of January 2014. It is reproduced here with John Walshe's kind permission...

Athletics in Cork mourn the passing of Holden...By John Walshe (Evening Echo, Tuesday January 7)

The death took place at the weekend of Andy Holden, one of the leading British runners of the 1970s and a man who tasted success on a number of occasions in Cork events.

Aged 65, Holden passed away after an illness and will be remembered for winning the inaugural Grange International Cross-Country race at Fermoy in January of 1976.

There, before an attendance of around 3,000, he won the six mile race from his British colleague Grenville Tuck with Neil Cusack from Limerick third and Leevale’s Donie Walsh in fourth.

Later that year Holden was the star of the Cork City Sports where he won a thrilling 5000m on the grass at the Mardyke, his time that night of 13:59.8 putting him well clear of Irish runners Gerry Deegan and Cusack.

The following night, Cusack – who would run the Olympic marathon a month later at Montreal – turned the tables on Holden in a 10-mile race from Fermoy to Mitchelstown.

This was organised by Tom Burke, the founder of the Grange International meeting, and Cusack’s time of 47:51 put him 47 seconds clear of Holden with Welsh international Bernie Plain third. Hard to believe nowadays, just 27 runners took part on that occasion.

Through his friendship with Donie Walsh, Holden returned to Cork in December 1979 where he won a road race around Ballinlough, organised by Leevale. Over a distance of 7,540 metres, Holden’s time of 21:38 gave him 11 seconds to spare over Des O’Connor from Kilkenny with Cusack once again in the frame, finishing third just a second behind.

Holden ran the steeplechase at the 1972 Munich Olympics, the same year that he set a national record of 8:26.4 at Crystal Palace for the event. It’s a time which still places him 20th on the UK all-time list.

A great servant of the famous Tipton Harriers club, Holden later moved up to the marathon where he had a best time of 2:15:18,

Bermuda Marathon

Showing a great range of ability, he was also the course record-holder for the 36-mile Two Bridges Race in Scotland with a time of 3:21:46.

A dentist by profession, he also held many administrative and promotional posts at club and area level and coached a number of groups of young athletes over the years at Tipton.

Outside athletics he was involved with many charities and good causes and helped out for many years with the ‘Crisis At Christmas’ organisation providing food and shelter for the homeless over the festive period.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Saw the man run once in Cork. Was so powerful. May he rest in peace.
Great article John Walshe, Thanks for Posting John Desmond.
Intersting race in the article Mitchelstown to Fermoy. Could it be done again???
Hilly and tough but sounds like a gem.