Runner Profile:  David O’Brien

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Davy O’Brien is certainly a face that many will recognise from the local running scene.  The enthusiastic 52 year old has been involved in Athletics for nearly 45 years, and has an impressive array of personal bests to show for his years of hard training and dedication.

In July 2012, Davy broke his femur and has been unable to run since.  However, things appear to be improving and he hopes to get back running very soon.  Rumour has it that he might even make the start line of this year ‘Walled City Marathon’ in Derry/Londonderry in June!  Good Luck Davy!

Full Name:  John David O’Brien
Current Category:  Male Vet50
Associated Club:  Unattached

Personal Bests:  1500m – 4:06, 3k – 8:40, 5k (track) – 14:53, 5k (road) – 14:48, 10k (track) –  30:43, 10k (road) – 29:50, 5 miles – 24:40 , 10 miles – 50:38, Half Marathon – 1:08:26, Marathon – 2:28:00

What is your favourite Northern Ireland event?  I really look forward to the Omagh Half Marathon, as I think it is a great race and I have always ran a good time there.  There are a few others that spring to mind as well, such as the Greencastle 5 on Boxing Day and the Seeley Cup in Belfast.  In my opinion the best Cross Country course is Sixmilewater Park in Ballyclare.

When did you start running?  I started running in 1967, after going to watch my older brother Junior competing in the school sports.   I can remember my first ever prize, it was at a Cross Country race just outside Dundalk in 1968, it was for finishing last in the Under 10 race!  I ran barefoot in the snow, it was the only time I finished last in a race.

If it had not been for the late, great Larry McGuill I don’t think I would have lasted a year, let alone over forty years in the sport!  He was a great mentor to me and to lot of other great athletes.   I enjoy passing on my experience to the athletes I help.

Why do you run?  Possibly because I’m mad and I love the buzz!  More seriously, I like the atmosphere and craic after every race.  Just getting up in the morning and being able to go out and run makes me feel lucky to be alive.

What is your favourite training ‘session’?  My Favourite session would have to be; one mile repeats with a one minute recovery.  I also like to leave my house early in the morning and head out for a two hour run on my own, starting at nine minute mile pace and working up to race pace after a few miles, before dropping back down to nine minute mile pace for the last twenty minutes.  On easier days, I go to Davagh Forest with my three dogs and run until they are so tired that they can’t run anymore!  I find this relaxing.

What is your favourite pre-race and post-race meals?   I would only take a couple slices of toast and a cup of coffee before a race, probably about two hours prior to starting.  After a race, I love to go for a nice steak with all the trimmings.  I’m not really obsessed by the whole salad thing, so I enjoy things like pizza or a baked potato with plenty of cheese and onion.

What would you consider your greatest achievement in running to be?  There have been a lot of achievements during my forty five years in Athletics!  A few I will I always remember are; representing Ireland at the 1986 CSIT Cross Country Championships in Paris as we won a bronze medal.  I ran barefoot and the temperature dropped to -12, my feet were sore for a while after that race.

Winning the Leinster Intermediate Cross Country race in Swords in 1985, as I led it from start to finish!  I have also won club medals at County and All Ireland level from the age of ten onwards and have eight Northern Ireland Championship medals at veteran level.

You have been out injured for a while, how are thing?  Have you any time-frame in mind for a return?  Yes, I broke my femur in July.  I am starting to recover well now and have started to do a lot walking in Davagh Forest.  I will not make it to the London Marathon in 2013, so I am aiming to run the Walled City Marathon in Derry.

Unfortunately, I do have a lot of hard work in front me but I am Determined to get back to fitness as quickly as I can.  The biggest problem at the moment is trying to get rid of the two and a half stone I have put on since the injury.

What other sports do you like?  I am a huge football fan, and lifelong supporter of Leeds United.  I used to play some Gaelic Football with my local club in Dunleer, but I gave it up after a bad wrist break when I was eighteen.  I also like Pool and Darts.