Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Guest Post : JOHN O’LEARY’S AMAZING John Walshe

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Guest Post : JOHN O’LEARY’S AMAZING John Walshe

Congratulations to Cork runner John O'Leary who is now 80 years old and moves into the M80 category! To mark the occasion, the following article written by John Walshe for the Leevale AC  50th anniversary book 'Leevale - Home of Champions' has been updated for John's birthday. 


Of the 31 runners who ran the first Ballycotton ‘10’ back in 1978, 12 were from the Leevale club. However, for one of that dozen it is not the ten-mile race that holds the most memories but the Ballycotton Summer Series of five milers.

Later in that year of 1978, John O’Leary ran the Shanagarry ‘5’ and so started an incredible sequence that saw the Douglas man take part in a total of 154 consecutive races in the Series. But not alone did he reach that colossal number but he also achieved a milestone in running that will never be surpassed – that of finishing in first place in his age category in a staggering 123 of these events.

John took up running somewhat late in life, as his first sporting involvement was with Douglas Hall soccer club, both as a founder member and as a coach. “I was with them for around 10 years and we used to train at Castletreasure pitch,” he recalls. “As I was then in my late thirties I said I should do something about getting myself fit, so I started running in the field and I eventually ventured out in the dark and ran four miles. I said if I can keep this going for the four seasons, regardless of the weather, I will take up running for good.”

Luckily for John, across the road from his home in Gartan Park lived Jerry Murphy, then one of Cork’s outstanding distance runners. “It was Jerry who got me involved in Leevale and then the late Mick Harte started coaching me, but it was Jerry more than anyone else who influenced me.”

John’s first race was an international four-mile event at Loughrea and he also remembers the first cross-country medal he won: “It was a County Novice ‘B’ race and one of my team-mates on the Leevale team that day was Marcus O’Sullivan, who would go on to win three World Indoor titles.”

Finish of the 2018 BHAA 5k Simon race

He won his first road race prize at that Shanagarry race in 1978 and the following year, having turned 40, won his first category prize. As he moved up the age categories, he continued his amazing winning progression. He was unbeaten in the M55 age-group with 20 wins and won the M60 category on 19 occasions and continued into both the M70 and M75 categories.,

“I took up running as a science, not as a sport. I wanted to see what the body could go through and that helped me. I always knew when to ease off and I also knew the meaning of the word recovery,” concludes this remarkable man, who will celebrate his 80th birthday this month of December, 2018.

John O'Leary at the last Ballycotton 5 race in August 2017

A full list of John Walshe's articles can be found here...


James Tobin Durrus Athletic Club said...

Always A Pleasure To Meet John At Different Races Over The Years

Gearóid said...

A great piece of stuff, as we used to say!

John R said...

What a record.. an inspiration to all to keep up running.John Reynolds

John Robinson said...

Well done John such an inspiration to lot Runners including myself. I remember when youl you ran like a. butterfliy.such a nice gentleman keep up the running

Unknown said...

A gentleman and a fabulous runner.
Kieran Mulcahy

Unknown said...

Well done uncle john, you are Superman!