Some recent articles of mine:
Interview with Paolo Nutini in today's Day and Night in the Independent
Movie review (wrongly credited on the site) of 12 Rounds
Feature from during the week on foodies' guilty pleasures
Finally, feature on the Cork Marathon in today's Irish Examiner pasted in below (come one Examiner, get that website up to speed!).
On Monday next, Catherine O’Regan will be one of the 8000 people that will tear through the streets of Cork for the Bord Gais Energy Cork City marathon and relay race. However, the mammoth 26 mile course isn’t likely to faze Catherine: it will be her fifth marathon this year, having completed the Newry Marathon two weeks ago in four hours 27 minutes. The twist is that Catherine, at aged 73, will be one of, if not the, oldest participant in the run on Monday.
“You’re never too old,” laughs Catherine. “I believe that in the last few years I was the only runner in the 70s age group, There weren’t enough of us to make a full category - you need three for that - so I usually compete in the 60s category, which I won in Cork last year.”
It’s a busy Bank Holiday Monday for running aficionados. In addition to the Cork Marathon, the Flora Women’s Mini Marathon will take over Dublin city, as some 40,000 ladies from all over the country pound the pavements all in aid of chosen charities. The annual 10k trek continues to flourish every year: in 2008 alone, the amount raised for Irish charities topped some e10m.
Both Wexford-born Catherine and her husband Joe, who is also aged 73 and originally from Galway, are late bloomers when it comes to marathons. They lived in the UK for 41 years before moving back to Ireland, and only started running when they were 49.
“We found we enjoyed it, so we did a half marathon, and then got a bit ambitious and decided to put in for the London Marathon in 1986,” Catherine explains. “We didn’t expect to get in, but we did, so we ran our first one together, hand-in-hand.
“We both love doing them. I find them very therapeutic. I’m better at long distance as I don’t seem to have to work as hard at that. I had my personal best aged 57 in Melbourne and that was three hours and 35 minutes. Joe mainly does half-marathons, but he’s going to be a marshall in Cork on Monday handing out water, bananas and oranges on the route.”
After Cork, Catherine plans on fitting in two more marathons this year. “I plan on running my 100th marathon in 2010, so I’d need to do five next year,” she says.
“In terms of training, I run three to four times a week normally. I train with quite a few other local women in our club, the Slaney Olympics, in Enniscorthy. We put on races and we organise road runners, and summer and winter handicaps. They’re all women in their 40s, so young ones compared to me!”
Catherine says that the team spirit and the camaraderie generated by a marathon is one of its key attractions. “Everyone is so supportive of one another,” she says. “There’s a real sense that we’re all in this together.”
According to Gina Johnson, the organiser of this year’s marathon, that’s exactly the ethos of the event. “It’s all about inclusion,” she says. “Very few people can actually complete a marathon, but the relay race element is what really gets people involved because it’s so accessible. We had 900 teams registered for the relay last year; this year it’s 1,200. People love the team aspect of it; it gives them a sense of being a part of something big and exceptional.”
Gina adds that the marathon is also great for giving a boost to both the participants and the city itself, something that is surely to be welcomed in these most trying of times. “A lot of people will be out running for the first time, so they might only do the three mile stretch, but it’s still a big achievement to them,” she explains.
“You can see it on their faces. It might even take 6-7 hours to complete, but it gives them such a lift. In fact it gives the whole city a lift because it gets everyone involved. Everyone, from the volunteers to the Council to the gardai, has been so supportive and helpful. It’s what the day is all about.”
PANEL: The weird and wonderful marathon
*The relay race in the Cork marathon allows those taking part to cut loose and have some fun as a team. There certainly seem to be willing contenders in that regard: some of the 1,200 team names registered for this year include Handbags and Ham Sandwiches, For the Love of God Which Way?, The Coastal Cowboys, Abandoned Chocolate Endorsers, Legends in Our Own Minds, Scotch Road Scooters, Slow Cheetahs, The Blister Sisters, Birds on the Run, Relaying Relics, Puffing and Panting, Last Legs, and Blood, Sweat N Beers.
*Elsewhere, the some 8000 runners are expected to consume 10,000 litres of water along the route on Monday.
* All runners will have a timing chip attached to their shoe which will be detected by antennae at the beginning and end of the race to give accurate start and finish times.
* Some of the more unusual marathons held around the world include the Great Wall Marathon on the Great Wall of China, the Great Tibetan Marathon held in an atmosphere of Tibetan Buddhism and the Polar Circle Marathon held on the permanent ice cap of Greenland in -15 degrees Celsius temperatures.