Some anniversaries just pass us by. I suppose we can’t remember everything.
One anniversary that passed quietly last month concerns one of Galway’s greatest ever runners – the ever young Willie Morris. I had the pleasure of talking with Willie Morris the other night and he was in sparkling form. For a man approaching his 91st birthday he has an absolutely remarkable recall of races that he ran sixty years ago. He remains as sharp as the proverbial lance. For those who’ve never come accross Willie, he is quite simply, a living legend of Irish athletics.
Known primarily as a cross-country star with Derrydonnell AC, Willie also made a remarkable impression on the track and in road races. One of the many reasons that I admire Willie so much is that he competed with such obvious tenacity. he wanted to win and he didn’t care that it showed. Because he came to athletics much later than many of his adversaries, he often had to compete against men that were half his age and still came out on top. He won four individual national senior cross-country championships under NACA rules and too many other county, provincial and national medals to count. One of his less well known victories came fifty years ago last month when, in July 1960, he won the NACA national marathon championship in Crumlin. despite not having gone further than six miles in training Willi’s natural talent carried him through on the day and he crossed the finishing line in Crumlin well ahead of his nearest rival. His winning time was modest by modern standards, but that wasn’t the point. For Willie it was about winning the medal, and he had added another gold one to his massive collection.
Happy anniversary Willie.