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  • Writer's pictureBarra Oconnell

Eagle AC Member Profile: Pat Twomey

Name: Pat Twomey

Member of Eagle AC since:

At the invitation of Joe Murphy and John Quigley I joined Eagle AC in 2000. At the time I was a member of Belgooly AC but as they didn’t have a Master’s team and Eagle AC were putting one together I decided to jump ship and become an Eagle AC runner.

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

I took up running in March 1994 mainly to lose the extra weight I had put on after quitting smoking the year before. After running on my own for a few weeks I met the Carrigohane (Straight Rd) Road runners who did a long run every Sunday out around Ballincollig and the back Lee Road. They introduced me to road racing and in October that year I did my first marathon and was hooked!

Favourite thing about running:

I have two favourite things about running – the first is the camaraderie of running with a group and in particular with a group of ‘Eagles’ as the fun, banter and friendships experienced on those long runs is difficult to beat. The second thing I like about running is the exact opposite to the first and that is the benefits I feel when I go on a long solo-run. These can range from relieving stress to having very creative ideas while out running.

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

I would think it was Pat Murphy when a group of us used to do a 10 miler every Friday at lunchtime out around the Kerrypike loop. It was a very hilly loop and Pat being a Mountain runner would effortlessly motor up the hills as I struggled hard to stay connected to the group. Favourite Cork race and why:

It must be the Fota Cheetah run – even though I have never run it! It’s great to see so many people out for an enjoyable run around the wildlife park. What’s even more impressive is the support that the members of Eagle AC give to the race each year. At this stage that support is like a ‘well-oiled machine’ as the evening race takes place in such a seemingly effortless and controlled atmosphere. The amount of work that goes on behind the scenes is amazing and to be a cog in that above ‘machine’ is very rewarding and fulfilling. Ultimate/Overall running goal:

To keep running as long as I can. Most memorable/funniest running moment to date:

The most memorable time I had in running was the trip to Poland that Eagle AC took back in 2005. About 30 of us travelled to Krakow to take part in the Marathon/half Marathon around that beautiful city. Polish athlete Wieslaw Sosnowski was one of the top runners in Eagle AC at the time and he recommended Krakow as an ‘away trip’ for the club and the committee began the process of organising the trip.

We arrived in Krakow airport and the plan was that we would be collected by bus and brought immediately to the city hall where the expo was taking place. Following the collection of our numbers we would then proceed to the various apartments that the Eagle travel committee had booked on our behalf. This is where the plan began to go awry for me!

On reaching the expo I went to the appropriate section to collect my number only to discover that they had no record of my entering and paying for the Marathon the previous month.

They didn’t have the internet in the hall to check the details I had written down but told me there was an internet-café down the street and I should go there and print off a copy of the email confirmation that they had sent me. Nowadays this could all be done on a mobile phone in 5 minutes but in 2005 the phones were very basic and ‘roaming’ wasn’t available. I left to go to the internet café with the intention of returning in 5 minutes while the rest of the ‘Eagles’ were collecting their numbers. However, the internet-café ‘down the street’ had ceased doing business but luckily a passer-by told me that there was another one in the next street – that too was closed. One hour later and about one mile from the Expo I finally managed to print off a copy of my email confirmation and made my way back to the city hall and collected my number; the people at the expo were most apologetic and couldn’t understand why their computer did not have a record of my entry. All very well, only the Eagle bus was now after leaving to deliver the members to the various apartments around Krakow and I didn’t have the address of the apartment in which we were staying. The only thing to do was to find a bar in the historical centre of Krakow, that had outside seating, have a drink, and keep an eye out for any group members that might be ambling around. A couple of hours later I was visualising having to check into a nearby hotel but just then I spotted Joe Roche as he approached the table I was sitting at and a sigh of relief as well as a good laugh was heard in the ‘old town’ of Krakow.

Krakow was a great trip that was organised by the committee of Eagle AC and we had side trips to the spectacular Wieliczka salt mines and the harrowing Nazi camp of Auschwitz. Over the long weekend we were in Krakow we wined and dined in the local hostelries which were much cheaper than the Celtic Tiger prices we were used to paying back in Ireland. The race itself was over a nice - flat course and many pb’s were recorded by Eagle AC members in both the full and half-marathon events.

Tell us something most people might not know about you:

I’m a bit of a WW1 buff and have undertaken some field trips that were most interesting. This all stems from the fact that my grandfather was killed in the Great War while serving in Russia and his medals and personal papers were handed down to me for safekeeping. In 2008 I took a trip to Archangel in North Russia to visit the cemetery in which he is commemorated.

Biggest heroes (sporting or non-sporting):

After reading the book Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand I would select Louis Zamperini as a sporting person I admire the most. After overcoming a difficult childhood Zamperini was introduced to running by his brother. He qualified for the 5,000 metres race in the 1936 Olympic games that was taking place in Berlin. He was just 19 years of age and still remains the youngest athlete to qualify for the 5,000 metres in the Olympics. He came 8th in the race with a blistering final lap of 56 seconds. On his return home he broke the record for the collegiate mile when he clocked 4 minutes and 8 seconds a record that would hold for 15 years. But it wasn’t the running that I admired the most about Zamperini because just as he was reaching his peak WW 2 broke out and he enlisted immediately in the US Air Force and was shot down in the Pacific Ocean and set adrift on a life-raft, without food or water, on which he survived for 47 days and then became a Japanese prisoner of war for the next year under atrocious conditions where he was beaten, starved, and tortured endlessly. He managed to survive (just about), forgave his captors and for the rest of his life worked to help at risk-youths in his native California. What a man!

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

Ease into it very slowly – Rome wasn’t built in a day!

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

I would love to go on a run with Ron Hill – a man who ran every day for over 50 years, held numerous world records including a 64-minute half-marathon and a 2.09 marathon. But the question I would like to ask him is who was the Eagle runner he met while out for his morning run in Santorini in 2008? The Eagle runner didn’t recognize his running companion and when Ron told him he was training for a half marathon the Eagle runner proceeded to give him advice on a training regime that would most definitely improve his times. Now who could that Eagle runner be?

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