Marathon madness: Callaghan’s big breakthrough; Fagan qualifies for Rio
One performance was expected at the very minimum despite dividing opinion. The other was a massive breakthrough and wholly unexpected, except for maybe the individual involved.
The crazy marathon season is in full flow and for Irish interest this weekend it began this morning with Martin Fagan in the Zurich marathon.
Fagan (Mullingar Harriers), who has been dividing opinion since his return to the sport from a drugs ban for EPO, expectedly ran under the Olympic marathon qualifying time of 2:17:00 to finish 11th overall in 2:16:09. Edwin Kemboi of Kenya won in 2:11:34 with Japan’s serial marathoner Yuki Kawauchi second in 2:12:12.
The Mullingar Harrier had reportedly been suffering with a head cold all week and passed through the half in 66:16 and barring disaster was well on course to get under the Olympic standard. He has become the first qualifier since the standards have changed from the initial 2:18:00 which ruled out Mick Clohisey and Thomas Frazer’s qualifying times. Fagan slowed but finished in a time of 2:16:09 with 51 seconds to spare.
“Thank you again for all your well wishes and support,” said Fagan taking to Facebook after the race. “After a difficult week of illness, I’m delighted to have finished my first marathon since 2008. Not the time I had hoped for but I’m happy none the less.”
Speaking of happy, there could have been no happier man than Eoin Callaghan at the Manchester marathon. The Star of the Sea athlete knocked a massive chunk off his previous best of 2:24:58 in Rotterdam last year to finish second in 2:18:45. His performance was both remarkable and inspirational. The primary school teacher was enjoying the good life a few years ago and was safely a few stone overweight. Callaghan subsequently took to the roads for redemption and was a popular blogger on the JTG site for his Rotterdam marathon.
Callaghan’s looks like he has found his perfect difference. His times leading up to this race were nothing sensational with a 68 high clocking in the Bohermeen half but he has never let up on his training for races – consistently wracking up 100 mile plus weeks. His diesel engine showed no signs of abating in Manchester for his magnificent run.
Such a performance had to be celebrated in style and Callaghan was straight for one of his favourite sources of refreshment to enjoy his breakthrough. We’ll catch up with him in the coming weeks for a full run-down on his training on a performance that certainly won’t divide opinion.