[Published 12 January 2016]
Tony Kelleher competes in Masters M45 category for Togher AC and is Competition Secretary of the club.
Joined Togher AC: 2008.
800m – 1:59.34 (M45 NR)
1500m – 4:03.58(M40)
3000m – 9:02.64(M45)
5k – 15:48(M40)
4m – 20:51(M45)
5m – 26:59
10k – 33:49(M45)
10m – 56:46
HM – 1:14:17(M45)
Marathon – 2:49.33
Coach: Frank Doherty
Favourite Sports Hero: If I was to pick one person it would have to be Sonia O’Sullivan, undoubtedly Ireland’s greatest ever athlete. Sonia is the same age as me so obviously I would have followed her career right from the juvenile ranks to the pinnacle of her many successes on the world stage. She has so many admirable qualities from her work ethic and commitment to her vulnerabilities and how she dealt with them. Sonia was a supremely talented athlete and a fierce competitor. At the same time she carried herself with grace and humility through the good times and the bad in her career. I really admire that.
Tony and Running: I discovered running at an early age basically because I wasn’t very good at any other sports! I could run though and I could jump! I loved sprints, hurdles and long jump and participated at a competitive level right up to my late teens. I guess like a lot of people at that age I sort of quit the sport when I started college but returned to running in my early 30s in order to get fit.
What events do you do? There aren’t many events that I haven’t done! As a youth I was a competitive sprinter/jumper/hurdler but when I returned to athletics in my 30s I took up road running for fitness purposes. Like most people I ran 5ks, 10ks and progressed to half marathons and even a few marathons. I’ve done a lot of cross country running too although I was never a huge fan of it. As a masters athlete I thought it would be fun to try some middle distance events so I started running 800s and 1500s in my late 30s. I was very fortunate to have a great coach for this period of my running (Freda Davoren) and I progressed to a level that I thought was way beyond me. My main goal was to break the Irish M45 record for 800m when I turned 45 in 2014. I had a great season that year breaking the record twice and running a sub 2 personal best (1:59.34) on the second occasion. It was a nice way to close that chapter of my running life. Track and field is my favourite discipline but it’s an intense environment at adult level so as I approach my late 40s I’ve returned to perhaps the more sociable road running scene.
What is your main goal for this year? My main goal for this year is to enjoy my running more! Towards the end of my track running I had forgotten how to do that. It was all about time targets at track sessions and races and the enjoyment had gone out of it for me really. I had no goals at all really once I finished up on the track but I got so much encouragement from my friends, clubmates and coach (Frank Doherty) at Togher AC that I couldn’t help but get stuck in to the training again. We have a great group going to the World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff next March so it will be a lot of fun running the same route as the likes of Mo Farah! I’m less focused on time targets now but I always give it a good go and I’ll aim to get the very best out of myself on the day. It will be a lot of fun donning the Togher AC singlet and running through the streets of Cardiff that’s for sure.
What’s your most memorable race/best running moment? And why?
Getting the M45 Irish records for 800m was extremely satisfying so I’ll always look back on those races and that season with pride. Another one, perhaps unusually for me is the Cork County Senior Cross Country Championships in 2013. Cross country has always been my weakest discipline and I had ran the County Senior many times before failing to even register as a scoring member for Togher AC. Robert Heffernan had only recently won a gold medal at the world championships and he gave us a great pep talk that day. I think I ran a little better as a result finishing 19th in the race but more importantly 3rd scoring member for our club team that finished 3rd. I’m very proud of that bronze medal, my one and only medal from the County Senior Cross Country.
What do you like most about Togher AC? I love the way Togher AC has evolved to being such an all inclusive club. When I joined we were largely comprised of junior/senior, male, primarily cross country runners. I was the only masters athlete for quite a while and we had no female members at all apart from the obvious exception of Olympian Marian Heffernan. Things have changed so much since then. Our little athletics branch took off on foot of Rob’s world championship success in 2013 and has grown steadily to be a great success. It is so well organised and we have some great coaches there who are all Athletics Ireland certified.
We have a thriving Fit4Life Section which has been a breath of fresh air for the club. Fit4Life is mainly non-competitive and it brings a lot of fun to athletics. Fit4Life members are really enthusiastic and positive about the sport and have taken on many important committee roles. They are invaluable to the club in many ways. It’s great that we have male and female athletes taking part now right throughout the spectrum of athletics. We have a world champion race walker and a number of national level senior athletes. We have juvenile/junior athletes competing for fun and others who compete internationally or as part of regional and national squads. We had a senior men’s team in the National Track & Field league this year which really shows how diverse we’ve become and our annual 5k road race is going from strength to strength. Togher AC is forward looking too. We’re aware of the importance of investing in coaching and training facilities and we’re conscious of the need to develop strategies for keeping athletes in the sport right through to senior level and beyond. These are challenging tasks but our vibrant committee is more than up for the challenge in the months and years ahead.
In 5 years time, athletics wise, where do you see yourself? In terms of my personal goals it’s almost impossible to say where I see myself in five years time! I’ll be 52 years old. Please God I’ll still be down the track on Tuesday nights and in Blackrock on Sunday mornings doing my long run. Times will no doubt be less of a priority but I’ll certainly be aiming to keep my fitness level high. I’d like to see multiple groups at training from Fit4Life to club/elite level so that there will always be somewhere I can slot in to get my session done. I’ll hopefully still be involved in the adminisration of the club and maybe even a bit of coaching – although I’m not too sure I would be very good at that 😉