Injury brings athlete’s record run to an end

A freak leg injury has brought an Irish athlete’s record-breaking long run to an abrupt end.

But Denis McCarthy, the man widely regarded as Ireland’s longest continuous running streak record-holder — who has clocked up a staggering 80,000 miles by running every day for the last 28 years — has vowed to hit the roads again as soon as his injured leg heals.

“I often wondered how it would all end but this wasn’t the way I planned on it,” a disappointed Denis said.

“I gave some contemplation to pulling the plug on the streak when I reached the 10,000-day mark. But I suppose when I had the health and was still able to do it, I just kept going.

“My ambition is to start running again as soon as I can put weight on the leg.”

The US Running Streak Association defines a running streak as running at least one continuous mile (1.61 kilometres) within each calendar day under one’s own body power without using any type of health or mechanical aid.

Denis, 50, from Ballynoe on the Cork-Waterford border, began his running streak on Jun 5, 1985.

Hail, rain or shine, he ran at least one mile every single day on the roads, local woods and sporting pitches around East Cork through the late 80s, right through the 90s, and into the new millennium.

At his peak fitness, the East Cork AC member was putting in between 80 to 100 miles a week.

“I was always competitive and was always looking to improve,” he said.

“I felt if I wasn’t training, I was handing an advantage to the opposition and I suppose the running streak became a bit of an obsession.

“Health-wise, I was very fortunate. I had to haul myself out of a sick bed on one or two occasions. It was never about the prize — it was about the achievement in conquering.”

But he stumbled on a training run around a local sports pitch on Jun 10 and fractured the tibia in his right leg and damaged ligaments.

It brought his incredible 10,232-day unbroken running streak to an end — making him Ireland’s running streak record-holder.

“I have yet to meet anyone to challenge it but I’m reliably informed I wouldn’t make the top 100 in US,” he said.

Denis, who ran the recent Shanagarry five-mile road race on his crutches in 71 minutes, reckons he covered about 80,000 miles over the 28 years — the equivalent of three times around the equator. “There’s been a few oil changes over the time,” he joked.

A single man who works for Carr Shellfish Ireland in Curraglass, he was one of the first members of East Cork AC.

Over the years, he won over 160 East Cork championship medals, over 80 county medals, over 70 Munster medals and 18 national medals for various road, track and cross-country events. He won the 5,000m county title in 1986, and has four bronze county medals at that distance. He has also completed 67 half marathons.

He is due to undergo physiotherapy and hopes to get back on the road within a few weeks.


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