Sunday 28 December 2014

Marathon Man Dave sets no limits on his running odyssey

Frank Greally

Published 26/08/2014 | 02:30

Dave Brady of Raheny Shamrock AC recently completed his 400th marathon
Dave Brady of Raheny Shamrock AC recently completed his 400th marathon

Construction foreman Dave Brady credits Bob Geldof with getting him started on a remarkable running adventure that recently saw him complete his 400th marathon in Mallon on Donegal's Inishowen Peninsula, finishing in 4:37:18 - his second successive marathon during what was a four-day quadrathon promotion: four marathons in four days.

When I meet Dave in the grounds of Trinity College a few days after this unique achievement, he is having a rare day off from running as he gets ready for yet another challenge - 12 marathons on 12 consecutive days in the 12 counties of Leinster.

Less than a month short of his 64th birthday, Dave smiles when he remembers how he embarked on this very rare and wonderful odyssey that has earned him the title of Ireland's most prolific road racer.

Back in 1986 Geldof, the then lead singer with the Boomtown Rats, famously organised Live Aid to raise money to help the victims of a famine in Ethiopia.

While concerts in Wembley Stadium in London and Philadelphia are still fondly remembered, what may be forgotten is that Geldof also organised a 10k running event in the Phoenix Park as part of his fundraising drive.

At that time Dave was 36 and he had never before laced on a pair of runners. His sporting passion at the time was motor racing and he was a successful rally driver, competing in international events in Ireland, like the Donegal and Killarney rallies.

"Bob Geldof encouraged everyone to get out and run and take part in the big run in Phoenix Park and I decided to give it a go," Dave said.

He purchased a new pair of runners, shorts and a racing singlet and headed for the event in the park. The shoes fitted perfectly, but the rest of the gear - particularly the shorts - were too tight for racing. But Dave survived the ordeal and became immediately hooked on running; so much so that within a few months he tackled his first marathon, the Dublin event that October in which he posted a time of 3:11:43.

By now he had linked up with other runners who lived in Rathcoole and set his sights on breaking three hours for the classic distance; a target he achieved in Belfast the following spring.

Dave has broken three hours in five of his marathons, clocking a personal best time of 2:50:25 in Dublin's Millennium Marathon in 1988. He ran his 100th marathon in Dublin in 2007 and since then has added over 300 runs over the distance to his tally, including several international big city events.

The Kildare man does not just run marathons; he competes in track, road, trail and cross-country events over a range of distances, proudly wearing the colours of his club Raheny Shamrock AC.

Last year Dave notched up a total of 82 marathons and he is on target to increase that number to 100 for 2014. In total, Dave took part in 215 running events last year and he has never, in all of his years of running, picked up a single injury.

The quadrathon - four marathon in four days in Donegal - was a special event for Dave and he will long treasure the truly unique medals that race director Harold McGuinness had struck for the event. The four medals for the quadrathon fit into each other to make a visually stunning set and Dave was also presented with a special trophy to mark his 400th marathon achievement.

"The scenery around the Inishowen Peninsula was brilliant," Dave said. "This is a promotion with its own special charm and the organisation of the event was perfect in every way. I love running around scenic courses like this as the miles just seem to roll by for me."

Dave already has his sights set on completing his 500th marathon some time on or near his 65th birthday next year. There is no stopping the Kildare man who sets himself no limits on his remarkable running odyssey.

frankgreally@irishrunnermag

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