Mick Clohisey: From running the last mile with my father to national titles and the Olympics
Irish Olympian Mick Clohisey has ran and competed for Ireland across the world, from Belgrade to Rio de Janeiro, but October's Dublin marathon was significant for him.
The busy months of Clohisey's season as a cross country and marathon runner generally extend from August to January so running the Dublin marathon has always been a tricky event for him but 2018 was finally the year where the 32-year-old conceded and made the exception.
Clohisey played Gaelic football and soccer as a youth but running always played a big part in his Clontarf upbringing with his father Vinnie once inviting him onto the track to run the final mile in the 1998 Dublin marathon, igniting a real love for the sport from there.
Fast forward 20 years and Clohisey ran to a sixth place finish in this year's marathon, which ultimately secured him a national title. It was a special day for him and his family and a moment he had been waiting for for quite sometime.
"My father ran and I used to watch him run when I was young, I used to go and support him and I actually finished it with him one year," said Clohisey. "I ran the last mile with him when I was 12.
"I don't think they allow that these days but my coach Dick Hooper was the first ever winner of Dublin.
"He won it three times and yeah there was always a significance. The whole hometown thing was a factor, I had friends from the southside come out and support me, I had people from my club Raheny Shamrocks come out and it was probably the most enjoyable marathon I've ran and it made me want to come out and do it again."
Joy and int3erest are such important factors in an individual sport like running and Clohisey has had his ebbs and flows in this regard.
He's always run throughout his life but during his mid-twenties, he reached a point where his interest started to wane, his thirst began to quench and his desires began to drift elsewhere. In his own words he lost interest with running for a while but through some travel and time off, his passion for the sport was soon reinvigorated.
"I took a few years out of the sport," added Clohisey. "I just lost a bit of interest for a few years so it kind of delayed the process of doing a marathon. There was a bit of burnout.
"I didn't stop running I just drifted away from the competitive side of things. I was doing some races but I was training half-heartedly and doing some other things and went off travelling. I lost my real competitive edge for a while but I always had it in the back of my mind that I would come back. I was in my mid-twenties and I suppose when you're going at it every year there's a little mental burnout and you just want to do something different.
"I never stopped running. I loved running. Even the whole simplicity of going for a run. I was jumping in races here and there and then it was just a natural situation where one thing led to another and I got this hunger back. I made the Irish European cross country team in Belgrade and that was the first stepping stone back and from there and since then I really got back into it.
"I suppose my whole mindset changed. In your early twenties you might have a different view on things and you think you have loads of years to do this and then I kind of realised I had a gift and that I wouldn't be doing myself justice if I didn't fulfill my own desires. Looking back on the break it did me good because I got a fresh lease of life when I came back and who knows if I had have kept going at it if I'd still be running at the moment. Eventually I did my first marathon in Rotherdam in 2015 and then progressed well in Berlin and it just went on from there really."
His progress took him all the way to the 2016 Rio Olympics, a rather remarkable rise for someone who had only run their first marathon in 2015, but his performance was hampered by a foot infection. The infection was spurred on by a blister suffered in training and Clohisey admits that there were some telltale signs during training in the build-up to the Olympic Games and that he probably overstepped the mark with his preparations.
"You live and you learn," he notes.
The learning process has been steep and the journey has been long, and while he looks to make amends at Tokyo 2020 for his experience in Rio three summers ago, it's the buzz of competing again and representing Ireland that has re-energised his pursuit.
"You're always learning, it's like anything in life," he adds.
"Rio was a tricky one because we had a long drawn out qualification process and the way I was going I wanted to keep showing my form to the selectors and I was going non-stop. There were telltale signs in a few training runs and one thing led to another and that's how I got the blister and then the infection. I was a bit run down and you can look back and it is difficult.
"Even with the European cross country championships at the weekend I might have thought that I could get away with it after the marathon but it's a totally different discipline. I tried to analyse the course before the weekend but I thought I'll see how it goes but I suppose I couldn't handle the different type of terrain. You're always learning. Even from my own coaching you're learning but once you're competing for Ireland at a major championship it's a massive honour.
"I'd never give any way less to any event but the Olympics has that added interest with the public and it's the one thing that people see and it has that special thing about it, especially with the marathon side of things, it's like a religion over there. It's an incredible event but I wouldn't take away from the European's or the world's, once you put on that Irish vest you want to give it everything you've got."
The second nationwide Kia Race Series proudly brought to you by Pop Up Races was today launched by Olympians Kerry O’ Flaherty and Mick Clohisey. The 2019 edition aims to continue to drive on standards set in 2018, with eight course records broken and numbers entered in the races in the series up 29%. The male and female winner of the Kia Race Series will get to drive a brand-new Kia Stonic for one year and there is the added incentive of €9,000 bonus funds on offer for course records. Kia will also be offering a “Masters” (O40 in year of series) prize of a trip for two to the European Masters for both male and female winners.
There are nine regional races in seven counties across Ireland in this year’s series which will start in March with The Streets of Portlaoise 5k. It is open to all abilities and is encouraging runners to #runyourrace, be it for fun, to set a personal best or to take on your first 5k. For more details and to enter on-line go to popupraces.ie
The KIA Race Series
1. Streets of Portlaoise 5k: 17th March, 11am
2. Streets of Kilkenny 5k: 18th April 7:30pm
3. Bob Heffernan (Enfield, Co. Meath) 5k: Tuesday May 21st 8pm
4. Braveheart 5k (Trim), June 14th 8pm
5. Dunshaughlin (Meath) 10k Road Race: Saturday June 22nd, 7:30pm
6. Roscommon 10 Mile: July 6th, 10:30am
7. Edenderry (Offaly): 10 Mile, July 21st 9:30am
8. Castlepollard 5k (Westmeath) Wednesday Aug 14th, 8pm
9. The Lakes 10k (Blessington/Wicklow) September 7th, 11am