Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Guest Post: MICHAEL’S MANCHESTER MISSION... by John Walshe

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Guest Post: MICHAEL’S MANCHESTER MISSION... by John Walshe

The Manchester Road Race is a 4.748 mile ace held annually on Thanksgiving Day in Manchester, Connecticut in the USA. It is one of the most famous races in America and just over 11,000 runners have registered for the 2019 event.


An article on this Blog five years ago along with a talk given at last year’s Clonakilty Waterfront Marathon were the inspiration that sees a West Waterford athlete lining up along with over 10,000 participants in this Thursday’s Manchester Road Race in Connecticut, USA.

The national American holiday of Thanksgiving Day sees many road races taking place throughout the country but there’s little doubt that Manchester is the most famous of all, having started back in 1927 when just 12 runners took part. As mentioned in that article of 2014, it has a rich Irish history. Held over the quirky distance of 4.748 miles, John Treacy won it four times between 1979 and 1985, in between Eamonn Coghlan notched up three victories while Corkman Mark Carroll has two wins to his credit.

Michael Coakley is a relative newcomer to running, having started off just two years ago. Since then, he has been a regular at most events in the Cork and Waterford areas and looks like clocking up a total of 200 races before the year’s end.

Michael Coakley at the recent Glenville 4 mile

Last December at Clonakilty he heard invited guest Amby Burfoot give a talk on the famous Manchester event. When Burfoot speaks of Manchester, he certainly knows his stuff. A nine-time winner of the race – his first victory came in 1968, the same year he won the Boston Marathon – the now 73-year-old hasn’t missed a race since 1963 and on Thursday will be taking part for the 57th consecutive time.

“I was so inspired by this talk and also the article that I decided I had to run the race,” explains Michael, a clerk-of-works at Cork County Council. “When I made contact with the race and mentioned I was Irish and also from Waterford with the Treacy connection, it just took off.”

The Manchester Road Race publishes a souvenir magazine-type programme each year and when the organisers heard of Michael’s story, they ran a full page article on him. “Rich Dyer, who wrote the article, has also invited me to the special Scholastic Athlete Luncheon on the Tuesday before the race. I must say I’m definitely overwhelmed by the hospitality shown so far without even having met any of them,” he admits.

Start of the Manchester race

Although a relative newcomer to running, Michael’s enthusiasm for the sport is infectious. “I started off with Peter Jones at Waterford Sports Partnership which I found was great to get going. I then did a Couch to 5km programme and it went on from there.” With a few marathons already under his belt, he loves racing at any distance and on Sunday last – the day before he flew out to Boston – he took part in the Great Glenville Run.

Michael will be joined later in the week by his wife Bridget, son Michael and daughter Shauna. “When I first said I was going to America to run a race, they didn’t seem that interested. But then when I mentioned that the day after Thanksgiving is Black Friday, they suddenly had a change of heart!”

No doubt, it will be a trip to remember for all of the Coakley family – and it’s worth noting where it all began.

Race website...

List of guest articles on this blog from John Walshe

Article from the 2019 race programme below...

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