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  • Writer's pictureBarra Oconnell

Eagle AC Member Profile: Donal Dowling

Name: Donal Dowling

Member of Eagle AC since: 2015

How long have you been running and what made you take it up:

I actually did a lot of running between the ages of 9-14yrs. Back in South Kilkenny where I grew up, my uncle was heavily involved in a local running club called St Joseph’s AC. Club still very active. It was pretty much a case of my parents throwing us into a car twice a week and dumping us in a field nearby to support the cause. My memory was it being all cross country running in bare feet across many fields in Kilkenny and Leinster. During my time at the club I never ever ran with runners on. Funny how times change. I gave it up because the local underage GAA team, I was part of, was successful so running took the hit. Only took running back up really as a past time when I was in Australia during the 2000s and then later in 2013 back in Ireland when my ankles and legs gave in playing other sports.

Favourite thing about running:

I can pretty much zone out when running and relax the mind. Have a tendency to slot into a pace and just stay at that.

Can you remember the first Eagle AC member(s) you ran with:

Yes I spoke to David O Donovan at the track on the first night when I arrived. I had competed in 3 marathons by that time between 2013 late 2014 and happened to mention to David that I wanted to run faster marathons. He pretty much said the club would get me there so I was all enthusiastic until I did the speed session with him. It nearly killed me. Speed training was a new concept for me then.

Favourite Cork race and why:

I like the Ballintotis 4 Mile. Nice place. Always sunny for it and fast and flat.

Ultimate/Overall running goal:

Well that’s a tricky one. It was to break 3 hrs in a marathon but now it would be to break 2:50 or 2:45. Covid hasn’t helped.

Most memorable/funniest running moment to date:

Hard to remember an exact one but ran the 2014 London Marathon pretty much all the way with Batman and Robin. Don’t know how they did it, given it was a hot day.

Tell us something most people might not know about you:

Here’s one folks at the running club might not know. Went over to the Rugby World Cup in 2007 and attended the Ireland games against France and subsequently Argentina. Caught on camera after the Argentina game sitting in the stand on my own looking dejected. Well it took off from there. Got so many texts from home. My face was all over the news channels that evening, RTE, TV3, ITV. I ended up being added to the video highlights of the world cup and even a year or 2 later I ended up been shown on Ryan Confidential when Gerry Ryan was interviewing Keith Wood.

Biggest heroes (sporting or non-sporting): I pretty much watched every sport growing up for a long time so had many heroes. However, Michael Jordon was a big hero of mine when I was younger and when basketball was being shown on Channel 4. Was in Chicago when he was playing in one of the NBA Finals they won so that would be a highlight. Away from the sporting world, I would have to say my late mum. Sacrificed everything in her life for her 5 kids so that they would be educated and setup in life to be the best they could be.

One bit of advice you would give to someone thinking of taking up running:

Make sure to enjoy it as if it becomes a chore, you won’t get the benefit.

Also never doubt what you can get your body to do. Don’t put off trying to achieve your goals as every year brings change. No time like the present. Look what the likes of Covid can do.

IF you could go on a run with one elite athlete (at your pace!) who would it be and what would you ask them:

If I was to pick two, then initially John Treacy and I would ask him what it felt like to enter the Stadium knowing that he had an Olympic medal in the bag. I always enjoyed watching the marathons and that whole concept of coming near the stadium, then entering it and hearing that crowd. Shame they don’t do that anymore.

Secondly in the modern day, Callum Hawkins and I would ask him what he thinks he needs to tweak to get on the marathon podium. He has been so close a few times.

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