No. 6: 60 Seconds with Harrier Killian Lonergan

In a Sunday “60 Seconds with” double header, one of the greats of Clonliffe Harriers, a noted athlete, administrator and committee member, statistician, coach, vital Morton Games LOC member and all round good guy: Killian Lonergan.

Bio: Clonliffe member for over 30 years. Moved through the ranks of juvenile, junior, senior and masters, with some coaching and administration work thrown in for good measure. Presently living in Switzerland.

What age did you take up the sport of athletics and why? When: I joined Greenfield Athletics club just after I turned 9 in 1983. Why: It was probably a combination of seeing my father going running in preparation for the Dublin marathon in preceding years, and of course getting to watch athletics on TV often helped make it cool and something many children, and especially my friends, wanted to be good at. I remember being devasted when Coe lost the 1982 European championship 800m and staying up all hours of the day and night watching the ’82 commonwealth games from Australia a few months later. Of course Coghlan’s win in the ’83 world championships was probably the final push towards joining a club, as it I started with Greenfield a couple of weeks after that great day.

When and why did you join Clonliffe Harriers? Interestingly, my first attempt to join Clonliffe was unsuccessful, as I was refused! As a 9 year old I was too young for Clonliffe at the time, as 12 was the youngest age being accepted by the club at the time. As a result of this, I had to go looking elsewhere, and started with Greenfield, based in Albert College Park. After 5 or 6 years with Greenfield the entire club, which only had juvenile athletes, amalgamated with Clonliffe Harriers. I had just served a one month ban from training (to this day I believe it was a harsh punishment!) at Greenfield for some play acting around Morton stadium and as such I was being told I mightn’t be welcome by Clonliffe as part of the amalgamation. Luckily that wasn’t the case as I was allowed to join.

What is your favourite training workout? Progression run of any distance.

And your least favourite? Fartlek.

What’s your favourite race / athletics meet? National Cross Country.

What is your most cherished or proudest moment in athletics? (as athlete and/or coach) For many years it was making the Dublin under 13 cross country team chosen to race the visiting Merseyside team. I’d been injured and had been told not long before the trials race by a physiotherapist to give up running as I wasn’t built for it, so to get back in training and make the team was a great moment for me. Apart from that childhood event, running 28.37 for 10,000m on the track is definitely up there. It wasn’t necessarily the running of the time itself but calling my coach Peter McDermott afterwards to tell him the result was a proud moment. It came after many years of stop/start training due to injuries and it felt like a job done by both of us that night.

What was your worst injury – and how did you get over it? A torn hamstring, not from speed work, but during a cross country race in Belgium. Unfortunately it took many years to resolve and in essence stopped me competing at a serious level.

(For a coach or seasoned athlete) What piece of advice would you give an aspiring athlete? Train smart and hard and listen to your coaches.

Do you have any memorable or funny story from Clonliffe Harriers that you could share? (the censorship board may review!) Joe Cooper will often tell the story of how on the morning of a flight to the European Clubs Cross country championships I couldn’t find my passport. It’s loss was official by 9.30am, but via various adventures and connections, by 12.30 I had a new passport handed to me at the passport office and made the 1.30pm flight to Portugal with the rest of the team.

What’s your favourite meal? A. For competition None B. Outside competition Chinese

Who is your sporting ‘hero’? (athletics or other) A. Irish Don’t have any. B. International Don’t have any. Was Sebastian Coe when I was a juvenile.

What’s your favourite…? A. Film No idea B. Song or Album No idea C. Book No idea

What’s your favourite holiday destination? Holiday destination – Thun, Switzerland where I live now. For a running destination, Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

What’s your favourite hobby / activity outside athletics? I’ve taken to cycling over the past 5 years, coinciding with my move to Switzerland. With great roads and climbing for all levels it was always likely to happen. I do enjoy a round of golf whenever I can slip it in when back in Dublin visiting.

How would your non-athlete friends describe you? (in 3 words) The runner man.

What is your next running / athletics goal? (whenever normality returns!) Berlin marathon 2020.

How are you motivating yourself to continue training at these difficult times? Due to having a lot of injuries over the years, when physically able to run, motivation to train has never been an issue, so fortunately, these difficult times are proving to be beneficial for training (no 2km rule here).