No.25: 60 Seconds with Harrier Pat Bonass

Another of the “Old Stagers” , a great promoter of Masters athletics, and a man instrumental in the founding of the Clonliffe Grand Prix Series some 20 years ago, Pat Bonass.

Bio: I am Pat Bonass, 76 years young and have spent 50 of these years in Clonliffe Harriers without a break. I was married to Sylvia for 44 years but alas she passed away in 2010, I had 3 children and my eldest ,Pat jnr, has also  regrettably passed away. I have an even half dozen grandchildren all healthy and doing well. My life has revolved around my family, business in the textile trade and Clonliffe Harriers so you could say all three were and still are my family.

When did you take up the sport and why? I started running in the primary school sports in Croke Park, ran a few x country races for St Brigits with very little success but it was all GAA then and later some soccer and rugby . I had reasonable success in all three but always loved Athletics since Ronnie Delaney won Olympic gold in 1956.

When and why Clonliffe Harriers? I joined Clonliffe in 1971 on recommendation of Peter Purcell , a business collegue and later husband to the great Mary Purcell.

What’s your favourite training workout? My first few years in Clonliffe were difficult making the transition from footballer to athlete but the more miles I did the more confidence I got, then the Marathon boom started and I was in my element doing twice a day training up to 100 miles per week and eventually running 29 marathons culminating in getting elite status in the London marathon as I was over 40 and had a few sub 3 hour finishes. My training gradually changed when I began to travel to European  and World Masters championships competing in x country and 5000 and 10000 track

And your least favourite? None really, maybe cold rainy weather, I just love running.

What’s your favourite athletes meet or race? Race is National masters x country in  February each year . Meet Morton Games and Brother schools races x country 

Pat discusses tactics with Noel Guiden, Sindelfigen, Germany 2004

What is your most cherished moment in athletics? There were many,  Winning  a  Team Bronze Medal in 1989 in Oregon USA with the IRE team when it was 5 to score. We finished 3 rd behind USA  and NZ  a huge result for a small nation to find 5 of us to beat the larger nation. I was honoured by the members with a presentation night where I was given a memento by the Presedent Tom Griffin . The other great memory is more recent when i won a bronze individual medal in 2015 Over70  5000 x country in European Championshio in  Torun Poland  on a hilly difficult  forest trail  in a time of 19.25 after which i was made Master Athlete of the year in Clonliffe and also won the Tadgh Lynch Trophy awarded by the Irish Masters Athletics Association for outstanding performances in 2015.

What was your worst injury and how did you get over it? Alas I’ve had  many, and, just now at my age to many to care to recall so I’ll stick with the metatarsel  injury I’m carrying today!

What advise would you give to a young athlete? Love your sport , eat , drink and sleep it. Find a good mentor/coach , make a year long plan on 1st of January each year , break it into 4 x13 weeks , record what you do every day. Train smart  to peak when YOU want to . Be a gracious winner and looser . Remember Athletics is lonely sometimes and a selfish sport so be thankful to those around who understand.

Your favourite meals? for competition in morning  or evening race  scrambled eggs , toast and melon 3 hrs before race plus plenty of water up to 30 mins before race . OUT OF COMP  Corned  Beef  with beans and potatoes from my own garden with a big lump of butter!

Who is your sporting hero? Irish Eamon Coghlan. International Mohammed Ali or Cassius Clay, as he was back in the day.

Your favourites? Film: Casablanca and Michael Collins. Music (MY OWN)   2 Songs ” Fairest Maggie” ( written by myself to commerate  the 50th anniversary of my Mothers death  and “Song for Caroline” which I wrote about 3 years ago.  Book: 1984 by George Orwell

Holiday destination? Monte Gordo in Portugal  great for lovely people plus  running , relaxing , swimming, beer and food ( and slipping over to Spain on the ferry for 2 euros)

As a long time Clonliffe Harrier any stories you’d like to share? I was happily leaving the Clonliffe bar on way home with a few nice pints in my belly when i met Noel Daly arriving , Ah sure you,ll have a hot whiskey for the season thats in it  (Xmas),. .   ah sure one wont do me any harm says i      Sufficient to say we met bad company and much whiskey was consumed , At closing time we reached the top of the stairs whereupon i decided to let gravity get me to the bottom  ….. fell all the way down was a bit shook and Paddy Marley kindly offered  to drive me home we all laughed and laughed …..about me being very jarred,……. but …. i felt nothing until the drink began to wear off about 5 am when i began to scream with 3 broken ribs and a punctured  lung   …….  it was not funny any more …. i lost 3 months training and time off work plus doctors bills……   Ah .. the demon drink

Outside of athletics how do you occupy youself? Writing, singing and playing music especially with my Partner Caroline with various groups 2 or 3  times weekly. Golf , Gardening  and Horse Racing, (need more hours in the day for other things)

If you were Seb Coe what would you do to change/improve our sport? Oh! I could go on and on  but i will be brief : 1. One failed drug test life ban ( but allowing one right of appeal , if appeal successful no 2nd right of appeal  if positive a 2nd time.)  2. Promote more crosscountry running for TV in winter. 3. Space for a few Masters races in major meets ( to promote healthy living if nothing else)  4. Money from major games to trickle down to educate coaches world wide.

How would your non running friends describe you, in three words? Doer, funny, singer.

 When things get back to normal ehat are your running goals? Without a doubt to regain my place on the IRL team O75 to run in the British and Irish x country International Masters to be staged in Santry in November  2020.

How are you continuing to train and keep motivated at these strange times? I’m lucky to live in Ballyboughal and have minor country side  roads with little or no traffic. I’m on an 8 day running  roster  easy running for 3 days  then a ladder session with race pace intervals from 3 minutes up to 8 minutes with good rests in between  total about 6 miles then 3 days easy running and 8th day of a few interval miles at about 85%  target race pace with good recovery in between . Will do this routine until  end of May and then focus on longer intervals.  I hope to compete in few 5k and 5 mls  in summer races leading up to November big race  

Pat in action at the Clonliffe 2 in Santry