During the week he was going through some old scrap books and came across an Irish Examiner heading “Fahy wins second marathon” which was referring to his back-to-back wins in the Community Games marathon.
“I just thought it would be great to do the same again on Monday,” he said as he put the finishing touches to his preparations for his defence of the title he won in blistering heat last year.
“We will probably be the only people around hoping for a nice dull, cool June Bank Holiday Monday,” he said.
“But then it is the same for everyone — once you take drinks on board and keep hydrated you will be all right.
“It is easy to get psyched up for a marathon in your home town and the relays add that extra dimension — I mean out in the middle of nowhere you have a thousand people at a changeover point and they are all cheering you on.”
And it is the whole atmosphere surrounding the June Bank Holiday showpiece that encouraged Michael Herlihy (North Cork) to go to the line on Monday for his first marathon.
“I only decided to do it three weeks ago,” he said. “While I knew I did not have the proper training done I saw it as a good opportunity to gain experience. I have not been training specifically for the marathon at all.”
A former scholarship student at Loyola University in Chicago, he returned to do a sports science course at UL and when he went to Australia on work experience he spent three years there studying athletes’ lifestyles, amongst other things.
He has been back training with his eye on the marathon and surprised himself in the tough Bay Race (Half Marathon) in Bantry. Four days later he won the Midleton 5 in 24:57 from a field of 600.
“I surprised myself in Bantry,” he said. “I went there not expecting very much. We did a bit of socialising and then, at the top of the hill, I looked at my watch and realised I was doing just over five minute miles. And it was only when I looked at the profile of the course afterwards that I realised how difficult it was.”
Alan O’Shea from Bantry won that particular race just before he won the inaugural Cork Marathon.
Herlihy’s performance and preparation was in contrast to the Berlin Half Marathon. He went out three weeks beforehand to complete his preparations but got a bad cold and then got sick before the race and had to settle for 68:35 — he ran 68:24 in Bantry.
“I have no expectations for Monday. For me it is purely exploratory, experimenting with drinks and just seeing what the distance feels like.
“This is purely a people’s marathon and I am one of those people. But it might be a good idea to expand it in the future, attract some strong runners and people who might be looking for times. It is a very good course and, after all, there aren’t too marathons in June. Most of the European races are in the spring or autumn.”
Up to 10,000 athletes will take to the streets with 1,600 marathon runners complemented by the members of 1,200 relay teams running for charity.