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Cragg eyes marathon success in Japan


Alistair Cragg is one of Ireland’s most talented athletes having achieved notable success including a European Indoor title over 3,000m and a two-time Olympic finalist over 5,000m. That is only part of the story of the Arkansas legend. His career like he says in the interview has ebbed and flowed bringing as much frustration, for himself and fans alike,  as success. We caught up with him to see how he is shaping up for the legendary Fukuoka Marathon. We also have links to his career profile and the history of Fukuoka. 

You are one of Ireland’s most talented athletes but you have struggled in recent years. Where are you now in terms of your mental and physical fitness going into Fukuoka?

Struggling,.. it’s more like finding my way. My entire career has had ebbs and flows. And every time I’ve gone through a time of figuring out things I’ve come out the other end stronger than ever before. This has been no different.

I’ve been working extremely hard for this race since June 1st, and it’s all coming together. I’ve been dreaming of being a top marathoner my whole career but when I got to the point where I had to change training to move to the longer distance which results in sacrificing obvious opportunities on the track, support structures didn’t cater for it.

And this really complicated why I was doing it. No longer for the love of the sport, but I had to feed myself. So basically, this year I’ve gone back to simplifying things. John McDonnell as my coach and mentor. And just loving what I do on a day to day basis. Physically I am well prepared, mentally I am focused and excited for the task ahead on Sunday.

Will you look at running the European marathon in the Summer?

In terms of future goals like the Europeans, obviously Sunday is my showcase and I have a lot to prove to myself on whether I am made for the marathon or not. In terms of going to Europeans that is up to the selectors of course.


Would you ever consider running the Dublin marathon?

Dublin city marathon is definitely a race I’d like to compete in the future. I’m figuring out the distance and I have tried to just let the situation in training dictate where I raced this fall. So again, if I can prove I am one of Ireland’s and Europe’s greater marathoners I’d love to have the opportunity to race the DCM, possibly Europeans, and hopefully Rio 2016!

When do you think we will see you next on Irish soil competing?

This year was a rebuilding year. I’m always looking to forward to competing in my Clonliffe singlet on the track. No definite plans but I’m eyeing some races in the Spring.

What is your goal for Fukuoka and do you feel you can make an impact over the marathon distance?

Make sure I get to that finish line. Finish without a major “bonk”

Sub 2:10… Give myself a shot at the NR if I’m on pace with 10km to go, but I will be listening to my body and allowing it to dictate how fast I run. I have zoned in on my threshold extremely well over the last 6 months.

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Feidhlim Kelly

Feidhlim Kelly

Con Houlihan once told me that tomorrow is now. In taking on this venture I’ve started to try and put his words into action.

I worked for Con from 2007 till his passing in 2012 taking down his copy and a whole lot more. I have a Con Houlihan section which will go in to more depth on that.

I’m a long-time contributor to the Irish Runner magazine and am also working for the Irish Examiner.


  1. Friar
    November 29, 2013 at 11:20 pm — Reply

    His 5000m best is indeed 13.03, and not the 13.07 you suggest. National Record holder. A few ticks under Mark Caroll

    • Feidhlim Kelly
      November 30, 2013 at 2:55 pm — Reply

      Thanks. Just corrected. There was another time he was registered with a similar time and it was actually him. Just changed. Nicely.

  2. Patrick
    November 30, 2013 at 1:15 am — Reply

    The guy has a great marathon in him and I hope it comes out in Japan.

    Hopefully is focused on going out at a more sensible pace. That is the way to achieve the 2 goals he mentions here. Going through 10k or 20k at 2.06 pace is not the way to do it.

  3. Bill Weldon
    November 30, 2013 at 4:04 pm — Reply

    It would be nice to see him complete at least 1 marathon. DNFs are shameful. So what if he takes 4 hours? Quit being such an elitist.

    • Jimmy Dignam
      November 30, 2013 at 5:03 pm — Reply

      Quit being a troll. The Goose don’t come cheap!

  4. john dooley
    November 30, 2013 at 5:59 pm — Reply

    Congrats on being main feature on Social Media’s ‘Bible’ of the Sport! …Br. D.

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