Marathon man gets all social

Nick Cary says he got his fierce determination and love of technology from his dad, pirate radio legend Chris Cary, writes Siobhán Cronin

Nick Cary, above, has become addicted to marathon running since the death of his pirate radio boss dad Chris Cary, far right.

NICK CARY conducts his conversations with such speed and enthusiasm that it’s hard to keep up. The 24-year-old who last year ran three marathons, back-to-back in 20 hours, is supremely confident and well-spoken. It’s no surprise, then, to learn that he is the son of legendary pirate radio king Chris Cary and Radio Nova presenter, Dublin-born Sybil Fennell.

Or that marathon running is just his latest infatuation — hot on the heels of his other major project, a social network for sports fans called SportLobster.

At the moment, he is dividing his time between both, but admits that the running was never in his career plans. That is, not until his dad Chris died following a stroke in 2008, five years ago this month.

“Dad’s passing left a massive void in my life, says Cary. “At school I had hated running, but I decided to go out and jog one day, even for just a half hour.”

That was his ‘eureka’ moment: “I felt great — the best I have ever felt and very quickly I became addicted to it. I can’t explain it — it’s like meditation.”

Within six weeks of taking up running, he found himself at the starting line for the London marathon. “I arrived in my swimming trunks, a headband, and old runners, and really at that stage, I didn’t even take it seriously. About half way around, I thought, ‘I am gonna do it!’ and I made it, but I collapsed in a lot of pain at the end.”

To this day, after doing his three consecutive marathons back-to-back for Movember, completing two Iron Man challenges, two London Marathons, the Great London Swim, a Survival of the Fittest and a jog of the last stage of the Santiago de Compostela route in Spain (100km), Cary still hasn’t any great training plan or advisor.

“I googled the Iron Man triathlon one day and it said it was one of the hardest things you would do in a lifetime, so I wanted to do it. At least I bought proper trainers for that!”

He swaps notes via Twitter with his 17,000 followers, most of whom are marathon runners and keen sports people too.

But Cary’s schedule is very modest by most runners’ standards. “I do at least 20 miles running in a week, and I eat a balanced diet.”

His next challenge is to do the Enduroman Arch to Arc, an individual run from Marble Arch in London to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, including swimming the Channel. “Only 11 people have done it to date,” he says, and he is aiming for July, as that’s when the tides are most favourable.

Cary reckons he gets his fierce determination from his dad. “When Dad died, I really missed that energy, the someone to look up to. I know he could be a bit of an asshole to some people, but I think he meant well.”

He admits he still doesn’t realise the huge influence his dad’s Radio Nova had on the Irish broadcasting landscape — with household radio names having served their time there, including Bryan Dobson, Colm Hayes, Anne Cassin and Gareth O’Callaghan.

It wasn’t until his father’s funeral that he realised how many lives he had touched. “I had people coming up to me saying, ‘Your dad was a great person’, and I think they probably knew him better than I did.”

Known as ‘Spangles Muldoon’ on Radio Caroline, Chris Cary was part of a radio history that shaped today’s music stations. “I told my Mum [Sybil] once that I had seen a good movie, The Boat That Rocks, about a radio station, and she said ‘Oh that’s the station your Dad worked for’. That’s how little I knew about it.”

Nick reckons he also got his interest in technology from his father. “He was ahead of his time. He was talking about wifi years ago, and he told me about recording studios he had built. There was a blue container in our driveway at one stage with a transmitter in it, worth about £200,000. He said ‘You and me are going to spend the weekend working on this and we are going to make it work’. I used to think, why didn’t he just spend the money on a new car?”

It may simply have been that Chris Cary had left the more glamorous aspects of the high life behind him by then. He was rumoured to have done very well out of Nova. He drove a Rolls Royce and wined and dined staff and clients in the city’s best restaurants and hotels.

But Cary was reported to have felt very left down when the Government finally moved to legislate for music stations, and refused him a licence.

That’s when he, along with Nick’s mum Sybil, moved to the UK. Having tried his own hand at TV and radio, Nick realised he definitely didn’t have his father’s knack for broadcasting, but the techie end of it stuck.

He wants his Sportlobster site to be the ‘one-stop-shop’ for anyone with an interest in sport. “It’s gonna be the next big thing,” he says. And with his confidence and infectious ambition, not to mention his genes, you’re inclined to believe him.

*Nick Cary is @nicocary on Twitter

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