No. 52: 60 Seconds with Harrier Shane Rooney.

Clonliffe really is a club that has equality at it’s core, sure we even have a Cavan man as a member! That very man steps up to the plate for 60 seconds this morning.

Bio: I’m Shane and I’m originally from Cavan but having been living in Dublin for about 27 years….you can take the man out of Cavan but you can’t take Cavan out of the man.

What age did you take up the sport of athletics and why? I was not remotely sporty as a kid and only took up running in my mid-30s. I decided to give running a go as my housemate kept telling me how great it was to get out and clear your head. My first ‘race’ was in aid of AWARE and I was bitten by the bug the moment I crossed the finish line (panting and red faced). I’ll never be the fastest, but I run because it’s a great release, great for my mental health, and a great way to meet people.

When and why did you join Clonliffe Harriers? After I completed my first Dublin marathon (back in 2010…I think) I knew I had to join a club if I was to keep at it, however I waited for a few years to build up the courage. In 2015/16 I was at a training session hosted by Gary O’Hanlon and met Stephen Doyle. Stephen has a great way of convincing people to do things and he persuaded me to join CH after we completed a ‘Donut run”. I had planned to meet Stephen at the club but I couldn’t see him when I arrived and was going to get back into my car. I bumped into Declan Grant and Mick Gleeson who were also looking to join the Club, so I immediately had something in common with two people. I also owe a lot to the twins, Karen & Laura (I still can’t tell them apart), as they took me under their wing on the first night.

What is your favourite training workout? While not a formal training workout, I love the group long runs we do before the Dublin marathon. You get to spend time with some really great people and hear some great stories.

And your least favourite? I’m not a huge fan of getting my feet wet, so I’ll have to say the sessions in Trinity grounds.

What’s your favourite race / athletics meet? I love the Dublin Race Series, it’s well organised, always a challenge and you get a free banana. One of my favourite club races was the 2018 Grand Prix 10 Mile in Malahide when myself and Aideen O’Connor had to keep repeating “I am a warrior, I am a champion, I can do this….”

What is your most cherished or proudest moment in athletics? (as athlete and/or coach) Building the courage to join the club was huge turning point for me and I’m proud of myself for getting out of the car that Tuesday night. From a race point of view I have two: (1) Running alongside Aisling Andrews to get a sub 20 min 5k (while being shouted at by Mark Dowling and Stephen Tracey) (2) During the 2018 Dublin marathon I got chatting to a girl who was really struggling at mile 18, I persuaded her to run with me for a mile and she ended up getting a PB. After the race her boyfriend sent me a message on Facebook to say that she was going to drop out just before she met me. My race wasn’t great (let’s just say Pam started calling me Tiny Tears) but I was chuffed to hear I helped someone dig in and keep going.

Shane and Aisling Andrews

What was your worst injury – and how did you get over it? I’m touching wood as I type this, as any injury I’ve had has been very short term and nothing too serious.

(For a coach or seasoned athlete) What piece of advice would you give an aspiring athlete? Repeat the mantra “I can, I will” For people at my level, I suggest signing up for a race, set yourself a goal and focus on achieving it…the feeling you get from crossing the finish line makes everything worthwhile. Surround yourself with believers and positive people.

Do you have any memorable or funny story from Clonliffe Harriers that you could share? (the censorship board may review!) The club has become a huge part of my life and I have made many great friends and there have been some great stories along the way. From me crying through the entire 2018 marathon, the Cologne 3 missing their flights, post marathon parties, Evelyn and her yoyo, Pam attempting to kick me out of the WhatsApp group for sharing one too many holiday photos, the Clonolympics, to scaring the bejaysus out of Aisling as she was hiding between some bins!!!! We have had so many laughs; they keep me coming back each week.

What’s your favourite meal? A. For competition – Pasta the night before and porridge in the morning. B. Outside competition – For starters it would be the chicken wings from the Elephant & Castle, for mains it’s an Indian from Kajjal in Malahide, and for dessert it’s an icecream from Storm in a Teacup

Who is your sporting ‘hero’? (athletics or other) A. Irish – As I’m from Cavan I have to say Catherina McKiernan (athletics) who I love seeing at the Malahide parkrun and Alan O’Mara (a Cavan GAA player) who has spoken so bravely about experiencing depression. Outside of Cavan I think the O’Donovan Brothers are fantastic ambassadors for Irish sport. B. International – Jana Novotna, I just loved her passion and willingness to show her emotions, I will never forget how upset she was after losing the Wimbledon final in 1993, but she didn’t give up and came back to win it in 1998. I got to see her playing a maters match at the US Open and she laughed when I shouted “I love you Jana”.

What’s your favourite…? A. Film – Far from Heaven B. Song or Album – Mr Misunderstood by Eric Church C. Book – The Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin

What’s your favourite holiday destination? Japan is amazing and Iceland is beautiful, I’d go back to both places tomorrow (if it wasn’t for the 2km restrictions)

What’s your favourite hobby / activity outside athletics? I’m a bit of a crafting nerd and I make family frames using scrabble pieces. I also love going to the cinema….just for the butter popcorn.

If you were Seb Coe what changes would you implement to improve our sport? Aside from attempting to combat the drugs in sports problem, I really liked the post London Olympic initiative in the UK were people were encouraged to try out all sports. I’d love to see people being encouraged to club open days and getting to try out a session and meet other members.

How would your non-athlete friends describe you? (in 3 words) ‘Please stop talking’

What is your next running / athletics goal? (whenever normality returns!) I’ve promised Anne Lyons that I’ll give mountain running a go….she’ll hunt me down and drag me up a mountain if I don’t join her at some stage.

How are you motivating yourself to continue training at these difficult times? Some weeks are easier than others, and Pam is great for posting weekly sessions. I’m grateful to Laura Kiernan, Marie Howard and Declan Grant who keep me in check and set weekly challenges.

Dublin Marathon job done!