All of our team are, or have been, runners in some capacity – from the humble 5K all the way up to the Comrades (ultra)Marathon in South Africa. We all started out running the same way: not very quickly. We know what it takes to get fitter and faster, and what kinds of setbacks runners are likely to face. The majority of our team aren’t record-holders, but we do know running, and we enjoy it.
When running became a passion of Michael’s in the early 2000s, he found that he wasn’t easily able to find high-quality, specific trainers or gear locally, so, along with his wife Sharon, he decided to set up a specialist running shop right here in Belfast. He has run nine marathons (four in Belfast, four in London, and one in New York) and participated in many other running events, including Saucony’s Race to Kinvara 2014, and ASICS’ Outrun the Sun 2014. Ten years on, he’s still a keen runner. However, with a recent setback of a bad fall whilst skiing, he’ll be concentrating on cross training until running is possible again, as well as ‘running’ the business – all with the help of a few litres of coffee a day!
Sharon is a multi-tasker extraordinaire. The old adage, “behind every good man, there’s a good woman” holds true here: Sharon’s presence may not always be felt on the shop floor, but she is constantly working behind the scenes. She is definitely the lady who gets things done! She was inspired to take up running after watching her father run in the second Belfast Marathon. Now with three kids and a dog, Sharon is a stalwart of Parkrun and also participates in our own Runher events.
Our general manager, and the lynchpin that keeps the business running smoothly. Following some success when younger in middle distance track racing and cross country, she completed (and thoroughly enjoyed) the London Marathon in 2013. Although currently plagued with an Achilles injury, Catriona (or Cat, to her friends and family) cycles to and from work daily and is still active in the administration of her athletics club. She spends much of her free time walking her Labrador pup, Axl, but she’s also perfectly content to sit down with a book and some tea. Or, to paraphrase C.S. Lewis, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit her”.
Des first started running with the Boys’ Brigade, and his interest took off following the first Belfast Marathon in 1982 – he entered the marathon the next year, and again in ’85. He would describe himself as a plodder, as opposed to an athlete. Des’s contribution to running is now, in his own words, “encouraging others to run”. This includes supporting his seven grandchildren in their various sporting ventures. Des was a founding member of the first Ulster Lambretta Club, and has been riding scooters daily since 1958.
Brian, or ‘Hammy’, has run many marathons both at home and abroad, including the Comrades (ultra)Marathon in South Africa. His personal favourite is Rome, but he has also completed the Belfast Marathon three times. Brian can regularly be seen running with his dog, Blue, and a group of friends at Stormont or with some of his fellow East Down A.C. members at Tollymore Forest Park. Brian’s no-nonsense approach means he gives you just the information you need, without the waffle. Our resident handyman also has a love of automobiles, and even owns an original DeLorean.
Jenny is possibly the most active member of our team – if she’s not swimming before work, cycling to and from work, or gearing up for an adventure race after work, she’s probably sleeping. Jenny lived and worked in the Middle East for a year, and spent over half a year in Oman teaching women how to teach sailing. Not content with being fluent in English, she is currently learning Portuguese.
Formerly of running glory with St. Malachy’s A.C., Paul would now call himself a more casual runner. He is a regular gym-goer, and if he ever makes a (long-anticipated!) return to the competitive scene, the strength gains from this would surely give him an advantage. One of his passions in life is music, and he boasts an impressive array of skills on various instruments, should he choose to show off. Another tea (and biscuit) lover.
Clocking up over sixty-five miles each week, Conal is undoubtedly the fastest, fittest member of staff. With a personal best of 15:07 over 5km, he’s not a fair-weather runner. Distance is no barrier for Conal, who has been known to make a fifty-mile round trip across Donegal on his bike – for ice cream! Currently studying for his undergraduate degree, Conal still finds the time to train seven days a week, all while maintaining his sunny disposition.