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Mick Molloy – The passing of a running legend

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By Frank Greally

The news yesterday morning of the passing of Mick Molloy, Irish Olympic marathon runner, prompted many still warm memories of the man from Oughterard who was my boyhood hero.

Mick Molloy was a living legend for our group of young runners in Ballyhaunis back in the mid 1960s. We’d marvel at reports of how he would be logging up to 150 miles a week in training and we were thrilled when the teak-tough man from Oughterard was selected to run for Ireland in the marathon at the Mexico Olympic Games.

Mick delivered a gallant performance in that Olympic Marathon (1968) – discarding his running shoes at 14 miles due to blisters and carrying on to finish in his bare feet in 2:48:13. Mick finished 41st of 74 starters in that race.

Five years later in September 1974 Mick won the prestigious Berchem Marathon in Belgium in 2:18:41 – after taking a wrong turn that required him to race back after the leaders. The following year, 1975, he posted his best marathon time of 2:18:22 when placing 12th in the Kosice Marathon – less than a minute behind Walder Cierpinski who went on to become dual Olympic Marathon Champion in Montreal (1976) and Moscow (1980).

It was in 1974 that Mick ran one of his most memorable performances when on November 2nd, he set a World Best Time of 2:44:47 for 30 miles at a track at Walton-on-Thames in Surrey.

Mick led all the way – posting times of 53:15 at 10 miles and 1:48:13 at 20 miles and beating the existing World Best Time of 2:47:34 set by Jeff Julian of New Zealand – a 2:14 marathon runner. Mick ran average mile splits of 5:30 per mile for the event that took in 120 laps of the Walton 400 yard track.

Mick always had encouraging words for me as a young athlete. I remember a day when I was running in the famous Hollymount Road Race that used to follow a course from Hollymount to Roundfort – out and back. Mick won the race that day and then proceeded to run the course again alone in a faster time. Mick was our hero that day and he will always be remembered by me as my hero and my friend. 

Mick Molloy – A Real Running Legend – Gone Home.

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