Cork runner becomes social media star after beating Kaka in Berlin Marathon

Cork runner becomes social media star after beating Kaka in Berlin Marathon

A 58-year-old Cork runner has become a hit on social media after he was pictured coming in eight minutes ahead of Brazilian soccer icon Kaka at the Berlin Marathon.

John Casey of Togher in Cork City said he was “getting the proverbial taken out of him” by his wife Rona after he outclassed the World Cup and Champions League winner.

John finished his first marathon in a time of 3 hrs 30mins and 29 seconds, with Kaka completing it eight minutes later.

The 40-year-old former AC Milan and Real Madrid legend took up long-distance running following his retirement from football in 2017.

John said he noticed that there was a “big buzz” in the crowd at mile 21.

He realised that members of the public were calling out Kaka’s name.

'The last 48 hours has been mad'

“I thought no more of it and just ran on. I didn’t realise that photograph was taken. It has gone viral. The last 48 hours have been mad.”

He said it was nice of Kaka to do a runner’s fist-pump when he was overtaken by him.

“I think runners are a really inclusive bunch in general,” said John. “It was just an acknowledgement. He seems a really nice guy. There are no airs and graces about him. He is a world superstar and had a great interaction with the crowd.”

John said he was pleased with his time and wanted to give a “shout out” to his club, Togher AC.

“I am deeply grateful to them for all my coaching,” he told RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Show. 

“For all my coaches, Tony Kelleher and Aidan Hartnett. They are absolutely fantastic. Without them and all my teammates in the club, I could not have realised a decent time.”

John, who will be 59 next month, took up running about 10 years ago as a park runner.

He was encouraged to join Togher AC by his old friend Martin Casey.

The Berlin marathon was particularly special for him as his son Jack lives there.

“The family was there supporting me as well. My wife Rona has to put up with me six days a week of training. I will definitely do another marathon. I definitely have the bug.”

“She is taking the proverbial out of me [because of the press coverage]. She is not going to give it up.”

Powerful picture

John added that the photograph has touched people on a number of levels.

“First of all, people called out that it is a great memory to have. To be photographed at that level. There is a shared pain of the marathon on both of our faces. And then there is the good bit of banter. I am from Cork and there is Rebel grit and Irish grit and sporting grit in the performance.

“I don’t think we will be having a rematch. I don’t have 20m Instagram followers, so I will leave him to it!”

Togher Athletic Club posted on social media about their pride in the performance.

“Massive congratulations to Togher ACs John Casey who knocked it out of the park in today’s Berlin Marathon in 3.30.29. What a run to be a part of, where a new marathon world record was set.”

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