Termoneeny running club are once again on the map, with two of its members celebrating marathon milestones, both on Spanish soil.
Spanish native – from Fuerteventura - Christian Fortes O’Neill, completed the 50th marathon of his career in Lanzarote.
The 29 year-old, who now lives in Clady, ran 17 marathons last year and set himself a target of running 50 marathons before he turns 30 next month.
“As soon as I landed at Lanzarote Airport it was a special moment,” Christian recalls. “I knew what I was here for but it was also my first time back in the Canary Islands since I was just three months old - when we left Fuerteventura.”
He felt at home instantly, but with temperatures of 24 degrees in the late morning it was going to be a tough assignment.
“When I got to the Los Zocos resort, I checked in and went to pick up my marathon pack. All of a sudden it hit me, I was about to collect my running number for my 50th marathon,” Christian added.
After a day of carb loading on Friday, Saturday was the ‘special day’ of achieving his milestone.
Christian ran the first half ‘very strongly’ but the headwinds meant the second half was going to be a different story.
“I decided to ease off to enjoy it and so I did. I got talking to a few people along the way - something that I cannot do if I’m racing against the clock.
“I got to the end and then I knew that was it – the 50th in the bag. My father was there as usual to see me first,” he added.
Christian returns to Ireland today, but already there are plans in place. The February date of the Seville marathon is already on the calendar.
“A couple of weeks ago, I won the club entry place for London by a draw, something that I’ll always be grateful to my club for that.
“Finally I’m going get the chance to run in the London Marathon 2019. So far that’s all I’m in for but there’s more to come yet I’m pretty sure.
“2017 was an incredible year for me and 2018 was also amazing. I finally took part in Energia 24 and I was carrying an injury. If I can stay injury free, then who knows? Bring it on.”
On the same day, 58 year-old former Olympian Tommy Hughes was the first over 50 runner to cross the line in the Malaga marathon.
“I am very happy with my marathon time of 2 hours 38 minutes 33 seconds in Malaga,” Hughes told the County Derry Post. “It puts me fastest over 55 in the UK this year.”
Hughes is a native of Lavey and runs for the Termoneeny Club. He won the Dublin marathon in 1991 and finished second in Marrakesh the following year to seal his place at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Hughes also won the Belfast marathon and the Walled City marathon in Derry
“I had a medical condition for years and had an operation in August this year to cure it and it has definitely worked,” added Hughes, who is already thinking of the next challenges.
He is targeting the Irish over 55 records for 5 km, 10 km, half marathon and full marathon next year – with over 60 records in 2020.
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