JUST one month before his 76th birthday this Co Tyrone man hopes to speed into the history books when he completes his 33rd Dublin marathon.
Pat O’Loughlin from Castlederg will not only be one of the oldest competitors in the marathon, but also a member of a select band of runners who have conquered the gruelling 26.2-mile course every year. The pensioner is the only person in Northern Ireland and one of only 20 in the world to have completed all 32 Dublin marathons.
The father-of-three, who was awarded an MBE for his charity work, will run for an MS research project for Mylin Repair ongoing at Cambridge University.
In the last 10 years he has raised more than £45,000 for MS research after a friend’s son was diagnosed with the condition in 2000.
Seven years ago he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and last year he received radiotherapy but Pat said that he is now “managing pretty well”.
“Running a marathon is tough for anyone at the best of times, but at my age it definitely isn’t getting any easier,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll be setting a record time. The marathon is happening on October 29 – and I will be 76 on December 1.”
Pat said he maintains his fitness by “doing a wee bit at a time”.
“You start slowly and build it up and hope the old knees will hold out,” he said. “When I ran my first marathon I was 42 so I suppose I was a late starter.
“I got married the same year, funny enough. There was no connection I think. And I managed to complete every marathon since.”
The retired jeweller said when he initially started training he “did not think any ordinary person could run a marathon”.
“I used to go down to the local football field and train but it was pretty boring and monotonous,” he said. “No one was seen out running on the roads then and I was a bit shy to do it.
“Local people would have thought you were mad then I think. Of course it is all very normal now.
“I don’t know what was the problem back then with running, it might have been the Troubles. I don’t know.”
Pat added that his recipe for a healthy life is “a healthy diet thanks to my wife” and “doing everything in moderation”.
“My wife Philomena doesn’t run, but she walks so fast I have to run to keep up with her,” he said.
“The recipe for a long healthy life is to do exercise in moderation. Take a bit at a time and build it up. Walking is very good as well and keeps the system tuned up.”
Anyone wishing to sponsor Pat can contact him on 028 8167 1550.