Although my own running enthusiasm remains hidden under a little black cloud, for the moment at least, I was able to glimpse some inspiration at the weekend from two unconnected sources. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting up with the famous Willie Dunne of Donore Harriers in Dublin at the weekend. Willie represented Ireland at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome in the marathon and has many other running feathers in his cap, including a hatful of National Championship marathon titles and multiple senior international cross-country appearances. What impressed me most though was not the statistics or the titles, but rather his personal modesty and dedication to helping others in the sport. We’re not talking about a false modesty here – where a seeming disinclination to dwell on past achievements sometimes masks a fierce pride and self-satisfaction – Willie genuinely places little emphasis on past glories and devotes himself to helping others in the here and now. I’ve said it before but it’s true, if you want to keep it, you have to be prepared to give it away.
My second source of inspiration in recent days was my visit to the National Track and Field Championships in Santry on Saturday. It was of course hugely impressive to see Gary Thornton and Paul Hession make light of their respective tasks in winning national titles, but the whole set-up was a tonic of sorts. Runners are by default cast as loners and on the margins of sporting society and as such it’s great to be able to walk around any venue where there are hundreds of people just like you. Many of the people were more accomplished athletes than I but we all shared a deep interest in ‘How fast?’, ‘How high? or ‘How long?”. It’s nice to feel, if only for a little while, that you’re amongst your own.
Onwards through the fog.