Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Jack Dowling...the forgotten Irish racewalker

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Jack Dowling...the forgotten Irish racewalker

Born in 1929 in Tramore, Co.Waterford, Jack Dowling had a tough childhood having been placed in an orphanage at the age of 5 and later in an industrial school. As an adult, he moved to Sheffield in England in the 1950's to work in the coal mines. While there, he took up running at a local athletics club and then made the switch to race walking, a sport in which he flourished.

He became famous in France for his success in the Paris – Roubaix race walking challenge and walked in the Race of the Century , a 1,000 mile event in New York in 1988. He is also one of very few ‘centurions’ , race walkers who have completed more than 100 miles in a competition in under 24 hours.

He also made history back in 1982 when he race walked the length of Ireland from Malin to Mizen. After starting on the 18th of March at Malin Head, he finished in darkness at Mizen Head in West Cork on the morning of the 24th of March. He had race walked under supervision the 644km (400.2 miles) in five days, 22 hours and 30 minutes. That's an incredible 60-70 miles per day.

Here are a few of his records:
* 1,000 miles    * 1000 kilometres    * 1500 kilometres    * 3 day track record
* 6 day track record * 100 miles in less than 24hrs (completed over 70 times)
* Won 1st ever British Veteran 10 k Championship road walk
* Roubaix 28hr race. 1st person to complete 10, 15 and 20 times
* 5 x Rouen 24hr race, at which the best distance was 207 kilometres
* Entries in the Guinness Book of Records

He has also completed the John 'o' Groats to Lands End and is the only person ever to race walk end to end on both Islands.

There is a 40 minute podcast on the RTE Radio website HERE


Leah said...

Just want to correct you there as I think it's really important.
John wasn't "placed" in an orphanage.
He was forcibly removed from his newly widowed father and forced into an orphanage because it was deemed in Ireland at the time that fathers were not capable of looking after their children.

He went onto suffer horrendous treatment at Greenmount, making his later achievements truly outstanding.

This needs to be pointed out. This is Ireland's shame. And it should be dragged from the cloak of darkness it continues to reside in. It really does.

Deesie67 said...

This is wonderful to find this article.
Jack was my dad's brother. Thomas Francis Dowling. Unfortunately my dad passed away when I was 3 so have very little details on the family. Very proud of Jack