A burning desire to hear Amhrán Na bFiann played rather than God Save the Queen took hold of James Doran and provided the spark of inspiration and drove him to a gold medal performance at the European Masters Championships Half Marathon in the Over 35 category race in Madeira in Portugal on Saturday.
It wasn’t the only burning issue as the temperature of the day set a torturous test for the athletes on an energy sapping and undulating, looped course around the Atlantic resort of Funchal.
“To tell you the truth I knew I was in good shape going out there but with the heat the way it was I would have been happy with a bronze as we set out on the half marathon course,” said James as he relived every step of that memorable race earlier today.
Burning Themselves Out
“There was a British athlete ,Conrad Franks; a Frenchman, Charaf Mouelhi; a Portuguese athlete, Bruno Paixao and a Spaniard, Miguel Ferrer Muro all prominent and doing well early in the race,
“But I thought that they might be burning themselves out at this early stage and I left them off for a while – but knowing I’d be seeing them again soon.
“I also knew I was out of the medals then and couldn’t afford to let them go too far. Shortly after that point I began to pick up the pace bit by bit.
“I made it to the bronze medal position and I was feeling good and felt I should move up to silver – and I did.
Gold Medal Move at 17K
Finally, at the 17k mark of the 21k race, I caught a glimpse of Conrad Franks in the British singlet up ahead and kept him and it in my sights. It was then that I thought I’d rather hear Amhrán na bFiann than God Save the Queen and I hauled him in to move into the gold medal position and I managed to hold it. Franks was eventually beaten into bronze medal position by the Frenchman,Charaf Mouelhi.
Pure Raw Emotion
“On the podium later on there were so many awards and medal presentations that it was agreed to play just 20 seconds of the different winners’ anthems.
“I’ve been involved in these ceremonies before but nothing can compare to the feeling of having that medal around your neck and the anthem of your country playing – even the shortened version.
“It was so emotional that I felt the hair on my neck standing up. That definitely caps anything I ever did or will do for the rest of my life – I swear.
Covid Tests Everywhere
“Needless to say there were Covid tests everywhere. I got a test done in Dublin before we flew out to Lisbon,” said James by way of explaining how the event was managed under the current circumstances.
In Lisbon and at the race centre and hotel there were nurses everywhere and we were all tested four times in all over the weekend and if you were anywhere near the limit you were not allowed to race.
Made Safe and Secure
“At the start of the race we all had to wear masks until we got going and thinned out. There were bins along the road for us to dispose of the masks and an army of masked and gloved race volunteers with pickers to collect any masks that missed the bins.
“We were all made feel so safe and secure and I’d go back there in the morning for a holiday – that’s how I found it over the weekend which I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” said a delighted James in conclusion.
2013 Boston Marathon
James Doran has competed in and won races of various distances and in marathons all over the world.
He was also involved in the now infamous Boston Marathon in April 2013 in which three people were killed and hundreds injured by a terrorist bomb which was detonated close to the finishing line.
Congrats from An Ríocht AC
An Ríocht Athletic Club PRO, Catherine O’Sullivan sent a message of congratulations for James and his achievement over the weekend.
“The hills on this cruel course and hot weather didn’t deter the Brosna man on his fantastic run.
“We are all incredibly proud of James on his well-deserved win as the lock-down didn’t stop him from putting in some hard training all year,” said Catherine.
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