s with the mighty Elvis himselvis, Brendan O’Shea is a man we’ve been trying to catch up with for quite a few years.
Which shouldn’t be all that surprising really, given that he is one of Ireland’s most famous marathon runners.
Arriving in sunny Greystones from de lovely Listowel in 1972, the then-29-year-old Brendan came in first at the Berchem International Marathon that year, with a time of 2 hours, 16 minutes and 50 seconds, going on to be crowned Irish marathon champion the following year.
Berchem with Willie Dunne 1972
And let’s not forget, since way back in 1906, a marathon covers 26 miles and 385 yards (give or take a few inches), and Brendan O’Shea competed in over 100 of these soul-enhancing sole destroyers throughout his prime years.
Along the way, the man has graced many a podium, nationally and internationally, finishing first in Curtis, Nebraska, and runner-up in both Humboldt, Kansas and Lawrence, Kansas, whilst joining Dublin’s Donore Harriers athletic club in 1971 led to a team gold and silver at the World Masters Championship, plus a team gold and individual bronze in the marathon.
When Brendan moved into coaching, the medals kept on coming, most famously after coaching and mentoring rank outsider Jerry Kiernan to a 9th place finish at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Marathon. Other runners to benefit from his years of experience included Gerry Curtis, Emily Dowling and Eleanor Hill.
Not that the man’s life was all about pounding that ground. As well as possessing a passion for politics and horse racing, O’Shea attended University College Galway (now NUG) for BSc and MSc in Mathematics, going on to study for a PhD at London University for two years and another two years at the University of Nebraska.
With Jerry Kiernan in LA 1984
Over the years, he progressed from lecturer to professor, specialising in computer science. And forever exploring the science of running, and staying healthy.
Sometimes Brendan still does today, with daily exercise routines varied throughout his week. So he can enjoy his regular treats down at Café Grey without feeling even the smallest hint of guilt. Or pain.
Important to point out that, when we met up for our chat today, we managed to forget our notes heading out that morning.
We needn’t have worried though. Someone as smart and in love with life as Brendan doesn’t need much prompting to wax lyrical…
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