2011: Amazing people fill this world

Nuala Moore swimming Lake Zurich

Last year I’ve met some inspirational people, who’ve achieved amazing things in life and in sport. By meeting these people, they make you realise that the sky really is the limit. Shoot for the stars and who knows where you’ll land…

First off I think of Nuala Moore, a Kerrywoman who has done so many remarkable things, that she really makes you question how much you’ve pushed yourself. Nuala is a sea-swimmer with unique talents. I met Nuala at the Chicago Triathlon, where she finished in the prizes in the Clydesdale category. She has swam around Ireland in a relay team; she’s swam the English Channel; and this summer she was invited (you can’t just sign up) to swim Lake Zurich. That involved a 26km swim in a cold lake. Imagine running 26km? Then think about crawling that on your paws – swimming would be at that speed and just as hard I’d think! Her account of that swim on her blog is worth a read.

While you catch a breath, Nuala recently tried to set the record of completing the first ever ice sea swim in Ireland, by swimming a mile on the Donegal coast with water temperature of 5 degrees. Shiver for a moment and consider how numb you’d be after completing that – people rush for a hot whiskey after a Christmas Day dip, so imagine staying in for an hour!

Eamonn Coghlan wins gold in 1984

Eamonn Coghlan is one of the most charismatic people I’ve met. If you want to hear somebody talk with 100% conviction about enjoying sport, while putting you at your ease, listen to Eamonn. Whether you’re attempting your first 5km walk/jog, or a seasoned marathoner, Eamonn will have some wise words to reassure you that you can do it. I met Eamonn in preparation for the New York Marathon, as he was helping Team Crumlin fundraising team to train for the Dublin and NYC Marathons. This man deserves respect – he’s a world champion 5000m runner (1984) and came fourth in two Olympics (1976 and 1980). He’s best known as the Chairman of the Boards, for this remarkable indoor mile running exploits in the USA. To get an idea of the man, listen to his interview with Miriam O’Callaghan and his childhood friend Brian Kerr (ex-Ireland football manager).

I’ve also met a bunch of inspirational athletes this year, at various events and races I’ve done. These aren’t famous people, but go that extra mile in what they do. There’s PJ, a 70 year old man who I met doing the NYC Marathon. It was my first, but PJ was on his 19th trip to NYC for the marathon. What an amazing achievement. Everyone was genuinely hurt to hear that PJ did not finish NYC this year, as his knee gave up, however I have no doubt that PJ will be back in NYC in 2012 for his 20th NYC Marathon.

Cian Delaney wins bronze in Gijon

At the other end of the age scale, there’s Cian Delaney, who I met at World Duathlon Championships in Gijón, Spain. Cian only took up duathlon last year and has already won medals at both European and World level at his age group. Problem for me is that Cian is in my age group, 25-29. At least that’s my excuse for not winning a medal. He’s a genuinely nice guy, who works hard and deserves the rewards he’s received this year. He’s also up for Fingal Sportman of the Year I heard…

Tony Griffin's bookThere’s also two people who I haven’t met but have influenced me this year. I grew to know both through their books which they published this year (read my review here). Tony Griffin is an All Star Hurler from Clare, who is also an inspirational person and athlete. His book tells the story of how he cycled over 5,000 miles across Canada from Vancouver to Halifax. This was done by a man with no cycling background (or not even a bike until he committed to the idea). His book teaches you a lot about how people can achieve amazing things, once we don’t let our mind construct limits on our abilities. I was lucky to hear Tony speak earlier this year on Motivation and he really is a motivational speaker. Dream big.

Ger Hartmann's book

The second book I loved was “Born to Perform” by Ger Hartmann. Ger is famous now as a world class physical therapist, who treats the world’s best athletes at his clinic in Limerick. His book was a real discovery for anyone interested in discovering what it takes to be a high achiever in sports and in life. It takes hard work, but also a dream and a belief that you can get there. Ger transmits a feeling that life is important, make the most of every day, live it to the full. I will definitely take these ambitions away with me. Besides all that, it’s a great story on how Ger became Ireland’s first triathlete and completed over the world, including Kona Ironman in Hawaii.


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