Northern Ireland

Dublin marathon number 33 for 76-year-old Tyrone man

runners
Image caption About 10,000 people will take part in the Dublin marathon

Just a handful of people have run every Dublin marathon since it started in 1980. One of them is County Tyrone pensioner Pat O'Loughlin. At 76, and a survivor of prostate cancer, he is pulling on his trainers for the 33rd marathon on Monday.

Pat has been a familiar sight, running on the streets in and around Castlederg. He took up the sport in 1978 and swears marrying his wife Philomena that same year was just a coincidence.

"I did play a bit of football in my younger days but I never ran until the year I was married. I was 42 years of age then and that was my first run," he said.

When his friend's son was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 12 years ago, Pat realised his hobby could do some good for others.

"John wanted to raise some funds and I said, well I'm doing the marathon - I'll give you a sponsor card and we'll use that for raising some funds," said Pat.

"It really took off and I think we've raised over £45,000 since."

Image caption Pat O'Loughlin did not start running until he was 42

As well as financial support, Pat has a running mate, Jenny McMenamin, who trains with him.

"Times I would say to her, can you not go on, you're far faster than me - do you not want to go ahead and do your good fast times?" Pat said.

"And she says no, we'll stay together, because she enjoys the craic and all the people. There's great support all round the road."

Fast times have never been the goal for Pat.

"I've been lucky enough so far that I've been free of injuries for the Dublin marathon and I've managed to complete them all, sometimes through thick wit and just determination to keep going," he said.

"On the sheet you fill in what you think your time would be and I have five hours 59 minutes down, but I'm hoping maybe five and a half if things go well.

"At my age, you wonder a wee bit what will happen with training, when you go on up to 10 miles or so - would you get weaker or would your body not be able to get any fitter? But thank heavens, with all the good wishes from the people and all the prayers, the training has gone pretty well."

In all, Pat has completed about 55 marathons and has no intention of stopping yet, although he thinks about it more in recent years.

"I had a wee bit of a setback there - I had prostate cancer and had to have the prostate removed," he said.

"Then my blood count went up a bit last year, but thanks to the people in Belfast City Hospital, I got radiotherapy there. They did a good job on me and I was able to get back out on the go again.

"I enjoy it and people are so good - the amount of good wishes I get is unbelievable. You see people round the town here saying keep going and asking how the training's going.

"A good wish or even a wave to you there is like a prayer - when somebody waves to you, they're wishing you well, good speed on your journey and that things will go well. The local people always give you a wave.

"It's great to be part of it."

Around 10,000 people are expected to take part in the Dublin marathon on Bank Holiday Monday in the Republic.