Please – watch the documentary posted at the end of this blog.
I am originally from Killorglin, Co Kerry, Ireland, a coastal mountainous and ruggedly beautiful region in the south west of the country if you havent visited it yet, then just look at postcards of Ireland…thats what Im talking about.
As for sports, this region is dominated by GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) hurling, Irish football and some rugby. Girls play basketball, camogie or hockey in school. Not really the Kenya of Europe when it comes to athletics (although home to Gillian O`Sullivan Irish walker and Paul Griffin ex-Irish lightweight rowing teammate of mine)
Whenver the name John Lenihan was mentioned when I was growing up, I always thought of a mythical figure, a human who can run up and down mountains in a matter of minutes, what would usually take a mere mortal hours to walk.
There was also the rumour about John, the story about him getting up in the morning to tend to his farm animals (probably milk the cows) then hop into his car, drive up to Croagh Patrick to run the Irish Hill Running (www.imra.ie) Irish Champs, win the race then make it back down to Kerry in time to milk the cows again that evening. Probably true it added to the magic of the legend.
I met John briefly for the first time in 2008 when I ran my first hill run in Ireland. I had returned from 4 years out of competitive sport, living in Spain and Peru and I had taken up running after a difficult break-up. Being from Kerry, and having Corrantuathail (the highest mountain in Ireland at 1,317 metres) in my back garden it was going to be my goal that year to run the annual IMRA race on that hill.
I knew that John would be participating. It was his mountain. I knew that there would be a lot of fast girls there from other parts of the country and as luck would have it, the weather was glorious.
We set off and quite quickly I realised I was holding second place with Moira O`Sullivan ahead of me. When we started ascending Cahir I began to overtake her and the race was mine from there on.
I think it was the first time that two Kerry runners had won the race. John in the time of 83.45 and I in a not so fast 108.09 Results
From there on John and I started a little chit chat and now we touch base through Facebook every now and then. I am still star struck to even know him to be honest, to me…he is a true hero and a living legend.
Weeshie Fogarty has been working on a project with John. If you have some time, sit back and be inspired by this awesome sportsman and human being: