It came as a surprise to many, including himself, when Martin Hoare crossed the line to take the national title at the Irish Life Dublin Marathon last October.
The 36-year-old accountant from Maynooth who represents Celbridge A.C. had admittedly never really contested for national honours before despite having ran some impressive marathon times.
He was not expecting to be in the mix and believes that luck was on his side that day, the “dominos” falling in his favour helping him to victory.
“I remember running in Phoenix Park and I had a little word with Sean Hehir at the time and kind of said ‘we’re in Phoenix Park now, I’ve done what I wanted to do,’ I got around the first three miles with the lead pack in the Irish Life Dublin Marathon,” he tells Irish Runner.
“I was delighted. As the miles went by, I was still with them, and people started falling out.
“When I crossed the canal, I think there was only maybe five or six of us left. I kind of thought that maybe top five was on the cards.
“Then I got to top five, top four and I thought maybe top three, the dominos kept falling.
“It was brilliant,” he adds. “I definitely pinched myself a few times going around especially in the latter stages when I saw family and friends around RTÉ and UCD, it was very, very special.”
The icing on the cake came when he got to the finish line and his mother was there to greet him.
“It was a bit surreal to be honest, I didn’t really expect her,” he says.
“She takes part in the local Parkrun in Castletown, Celbridge. They were asking for volunteers for the bag drop or the bag packing or whatever it was. They got €30 or something for the club so she did it.
“As she says herself, she wandered over to the finish line thinking she would have to wait for ten or fifteen minutes for me to come in.
“I had a really good friend at the finish line as well, he’s in the guards, so he was helping out at the finish line as well.
“Just to see my mother, him, and a few other people, I’ll remember it for life.”
Hoare works for a multinational and returned to work the next week. He admits that the company supported him, but he couldn’t rest on his laurels for long.
“They made a bit of a deal about it but at the end of the day when there’s phone calls coming in from New York or Delaware or wherever else you have to pick them up and move on.”
The man behind the success is Brendan Hackett, whom Hoare describes as a “special” guy.
“He took me on in 2017 and I think he trained me for eight weeks. I took ninety seconds off my half marathon PB and then I had three stress fractures in a row with three years of him teaching me how to cycle a bicycle.
“He stuck with me, and everything’s just come after that.
“Brendan’s history and experience is athletics but it’s also GAA very much as well, and sports psychology, so he’s excellent in terms of building you up and getting you ready mentally and for the training. He plays a lot of mind games, and he did it in advance of the Dublin Marathon last year.
“I remember him saying, ‘look, to be honest, you’re in great shape, don’t have any barriers in your head, you can achieve whatever you can achieve whether it’s a time or whatever it is, just be open to whatever that is.’ You kind of lean into that when you’re running up Chesterfield and you’re in the pack, I remember thinking, ‘Brendan says whatever I think I can do I can achieve here’, so he kind of opened it up to me.
“I didn’t really have any negativity or anything, it’s very positivity orientated, it really drives me to succeed and to achieve more.”
Hoare knocked ninety seconds of his time from Dublin at the Rotterdam Marathon earlier this year and feels that result proves he is in good shape to defend his title, something he is not prepared to relinquish yet.
“I don’t want to give it back,” he laughs.
“Hopefully there’s a lot more in the tank.”
Martin Hoare was speaking at the launch of the 2023 Irish Life Dublin Marathon. While the Irish Life Dublin Marathon is sold out, there are still places available in the Irish Life Dublin Race Series which includes a 5 mile, 10km, 10 mile and half marathon distance. Entries are open on IrishLifeDublinMarathon.ie.