It's fair to state that in the unglamorous world of Irish road racing, there are not many celebrities. Sonia may rarely turn up and cause a frisson. Would you recognise the 2012 Dublin Marathon Irish championship winners (Paul Pollock and Maria McCambridge, since you have to ask), if they trotted past?
If you have attempted a half-marathon or marathon anywhere in Ireland in the last 20 years, though, you will know this man. With more than 260 marathons under his belt, Jerry Forde is one of the most recognisable faces on the Irish athletics circuit.
Now in his 60s, a short man with the powerful upper body of a wheelchair racer, he can be seen in his distinctive orange racing chair at every marathon or distance athletics event in Ireland – the longer the better, as he has recently added ultramarathons to his belt.
Born with spina bifida, Jerry was confined to hospitals and institutions until he took fate into his own hands at the age of 20 with the same humorous grit that marks his sports career, by breaking out of the Cheshire Home in Cork and escaping on crutches, never to go back.
It was another 20 years before the gift of a racing wheelchair was to eventually transform his life and he completed his first 10k road race in April 1992, the same year he lined up for his first marathon in Dublin.
"I'll always remember the first time I raced in Dublin. There were 12 wheelchair athletes that year, and most of them had better racing chairs than me. Waiting for the gun to go, I started to wonder what I was doing there.
"As soon as the race started though, I was determined to give it my best shot, and I ended up passing quite a few of the other wheelchair athletes, even though they were younger than me."
From Dublin, marathoning opened up a new world of opportunity, and he boasts medals from every major marathon, from London to Beijing, and Berlin to Sydney. Jerry points out wryly that not everyone is as accommodating as the Dublin Marathon organisers to wheelchair racers.
"When I went to Beijing, they tried to pull me off the course because I wasn't fast enough to make the wheelchair cut-off. I told them: 'I came all the way from Ireland, so I am going home with a medal'." And, of course, he did.
The lure of the sport is irresistible and he crams in races of every distance from 5k to ultramarathons wherever possible. A few years ago, he memorably drove from Cork to Galway on a midweek evening for a local 5k race my club was holding. We hastily convened a wheelchair category prize (which I am happy to say, he won).
This year he celebrates his 20th completion of the Dublin Marathon, an event which has become an annual highlight in his racing calendar.
"I've only missed one Dublin Marathon over the last 20 years, and that was in 1999 when I went to do the Chicago Marathon which was on the same weekend. There is a great buzz in Dublin, and the crowd support is huge. It's the most exciting event of the year in Ireland for me." Part of the joy of meeting Jerry on the road during a race, as I have many times, is his love of athletics; not just the competition itself but the social side, the gentle banter he exchanges with every athlete as they pass.
The runners bellow hellos, and throw out worn-out jokes about having wheels for the downhill sections, and he smiles and graciously responds. He admits it can be a little embarrassing.
"Everyone knows me by name at races and calls out to me, so I feel like a bit of a celebrity, but there are so many people who I don't know so I just chat back." And this is maybe part of the reason why Jerry has captured so many of our imaginations.
Racing marathons is a great metaphor for life – both can be challenging; there are personal struggles, low points, discomfort and hills to surmount. Marathoning pushes us out of our comfort zone.
Here is a man who could so easily have stayed in bed, with so many physical difficulties to surmount. Yet, he has broken through the edges of his small world to not only finish a marathon but to clock up an astonishing array of endurance achievements beyond what most able-bodied athletes achieve in a lifetime, including the physically gruelling completion of the Connemara 100-mile ultramarathon over 24 hours in 2012.
That aside, he carries that delight in competing, in being an athlete and part of each event, irrespective of the results, in a cheerful way which belies the discomfort of propagating a wheelchair up a long hill in the pouring rain.
While Jerry is continuing to rapidly clock up marathon finishes, the Dublin Marathon holds some athletic career highlights for him. "I have to say the best memory of Dublin for me was 2011, which was my 200th marathon. There was huge excitement, as it was being announced so often over the loud speaker. I felt like a celebrity.
"I usually find finishing marathons can be quite emotional, but this one was particularly special to me, even though it was a miserable wet day at the finish."
This year at the Dublin Marathon you may or may not pass a short man in an orange chair, racing as if his life depends on it – which in a way, it does. If you do, call out hello to Jerry Forde. He doesn't know you, but he'll probably say hello back.