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Harriers hail Mac's efforts

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Pat Kelly, left, and Jim McNamara from Dublin after competing in the Lifestyle Adidas Race Series. Picture: Ray Lohan/Sportsfile.

Pat Kelly, left, and Jim McNamara from Dublin after competing in the Lifestyle Adidas Race Series. Picture: Ray Lohan/Sportsfile.

Pat Kelly, left, and Jim McNamara from Dublin after competing in the Lifestyle Adidas Race Series. Picture: Ray Lohan/Sportsfile.

WHEN a club has been around for 120 years and some of its members for almost half that time, then it's time to celebrate.

That's what Donore Harriers are planning to do on Saturday evening when the great Jim McNamara gets the This Is You Life treatment at a special function in the Spa Hotel, Lucan.

Jim Mac, as he is universally known, was a mainstay of the Donore men's distance team in its heyday from the mid-1950s to the early 70s.

He started running at the age of 18 when he followed a group of friends from the St Francis Boxing Club into a new running club by the same name. He soon joined Donore, then the most successful club in Dublin.

Looking after the Donore squad was Eddie Hogan, another mythic figure in Dublin athletics, who saw his teams win an unprecedented 16 national cross-county titles in a row.

McNamara's career took off in the early 1960s and he won his first Irish title, over three miles in 1964.

In this period, he represented Ireland four times at the World Cross-Country Championships and also dabbled in steeplechase, turning out at the Euro Cup meet in Santry.

But it was on the roads that McNamara truly shone. In 1976, at the age of 37, he finished second at the National Marathon in Limerick behind Danny McDaid, who had run the Munich Olympics four years earlier.

McDaid ran 2:13.16 and McNamara 2:14.54 and both booked their places at the Montreal Olympics. In Montreal, McNamara finished 39th on 2:24.57, three places ahead of McDaid. When he turned 40, McNamara moved on to a new career as one of this country's most successful ever master athletes.

Over a long career, he won 11 gold, five silver and four bronze medals at World and European level and held the world M45 record for 1,500m. His most recent record came in 2010 when he set an Irish M70 record for 5km.

These days, 'Gentleman Jim' is better known as the dedicated coach of the Donore women's squad. His one remaining ambition is to see "the girls" win a national cross-country title.

Long may he flourish!


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