Catherina McKiernan grew up on her family farm in Cavan. The youngest of seven children McKiernan used running as her mechanism to escape from the hustle and bustle of the busy household environment.
Running around the fields was where she developed her love for the sport, but she never allowed herself to dream about what she could achieve. Little did she know that she would one day go on to run the national record over the marathon that has lasted 24 years now and win several medals at World, European, and National level.
“I never had any expectations, I never dreamt of running in World Championships, Olympic Games, European Championships, anything like that, I just ran for the feeling of confidence and wellbeing that it gave me,” she says.
McKiernan is modest about her achievements, something she says she doesn’t really like to talk about as in her mind it feels like it was a “long, long time ago.”
These days she organises classes for runners who are looking to improve. Despite being one of the finest athletes ever to represent Ireland, McKiernan does not follow the current crop of up and coming too closely but does have plenty of sage advice for them.
“We do have a lot of talent, but it is about being committed as well, and putting in that commitment and that dedication. It's not all about talent, it is about working hard.”
She also believes that athletes need to plan for a future outside of athletics.
“I do say to athletes nowadays that there is a lot of living to do after their running career is over.”
The Irish Life Dublin Marathon is set to return to the streets of Dublin this October and McKiernan along with Rio 2016 Olympian Mick Clohissey will be the coaches for the ‘Runners Support Squad’.
Despite never running the race herself, she knows the significance of it and described the return of the race following a three-year break enforced by Covid-19 as “exciting”. McKiernan also had high praise for the organisers.
“People have been longing for it over the last couple of years and thankfully this year it's going ahead, and participants can experience that welcoming and that feeling of wellbeing. The organisers are the best, they really leave nothing unturned and do their best to make it a great event,” she says.
McKiernan still runs in the Phoenix Park around four times a week usually running for around half an hour of forty minutes in what she calls her “sanity runs” that she says help to settle her.
She was asked would she be running in this year’s race.
“No, no, I've had my day,” she laughs.
Despite not participating in the race, McKiernan continues to inspire many who will toe the line in Dublin in October.
Irish Marathon record holder, Catherina McKiernan was speaking at the launch of the Irish Life Dublin Marathon and Race Series, Runners’ Support Squad. This initiative will provide expert advice to runners to help them to harness the power of support to achieve their goals including coaching guidance from Catherina. Entry is open for the Irish Life Dublin Race Series; 5 Mile, Fingal 10km, Frank Duffy 10-Mile and Half Marathon at IrishLifeDublinMarathon.ie. The Irish Life Dublin Marathon on Sunday 30th October is sold out.