Murty Hanly (fifth from left) was race director for the 2020 Mullingar Half Marathon, which had to be called off because of the Covid-19 pandemic. At the time this launch photo was taken in Mullingar Town Park in January 2020, the event was going ahead, as far as we knew! Also included are: Eamonn McCormack, Siobhan Flaherty and Martin Marshall, TEAM (event charity partner); Berty Dunne, Annebrook House Hotel, sponsor; Terry Toal, AON, sponsor; Conor O’Brien, who performed the official launch; Sgt Roger Nicholson, Greg Duggan, Garrett O’Brien, Bobby Begley, Mary Hughes, and Nuala-Anne Curley.

Running Matters One:2:One with Murty Hanly

By Martin Lyons - martinlyons87@hotmail.com

This week I’m interviewing a long standing member of Mullingar Harriers. Murty Hanly’s competitive urge was there from a young age, at trips to Mosney, and at a Mullingar Harriers training camp he enjoyed it so much he decided to stay on!

He has been a big part of many good club teams and always got a great sense of achievement, and the buzz that goes with competition. In recent years he enjoys nothing more than finishing races and the marathon in particular, of which he has completed four, so far!

He may even bring out the competitive juices once more and tackle his very respectable 3 hour and 10 minute personal best, but regardless of that, he’ll be sure to enjoy the occasion none the less.

He has been on the Mullingar Half Marathon organising committee since the inaugural event in 2015, and took over as race director last year, and though his debut was hindered by Covid-19, he has big plans for the race.

Name: Murty Hanly

Date of birth: April 4, 1979

When did you start running and what motivated you take it up?

I was part of a relay team that won the County Community Games on a few occasions and qualified for the all-Irelands in Mosney. In the run-up to the all-Irelands we went up to Mullingar Harriers, or the ‘BLE’ as we called it, to train. One year when I was around 12 or 13, I continued to go up to the club to train after Mosney and didn’t stop for years later.

I made great lifelong friends in the club and as the training developed the medals started to come. I never progressed into a top individual runner but, with the help of Bobby and the coaches in the club, I was part of some great teams that won medals at provincial and national level.

What is your favourite and least favourite type of training and your favourite race distance?

When I was young and fit I used to enjoy a hard fartlek session, which is a mixture of paces within the one run. My favourite distance was 1,500m on the track.

There’s no type of training I necessarily dislike, but I suppose nobody particularly enjoys running in the wind and rain!

As I got older and slower, I began to enjoy the longer runs and have developed a love for the sense of achievement I get from finishing a marathon.

Murty Hanly (second from right) with other members of the Mullingar Harriers junior team who finished second in the Leinster Cross Country Championships at Pollerton, Carlow, in January 1998 – Mark Carroll, Bobby McDermott, Mark McCormack, and (far right) Ken Whitelaw.

What running achievements are you most proud of and why?

I have a box of medals somewhere in the house from when I was younger and probably the best one is an all-Ireland senior road relay bronze medal I won with the club when I was 19.

I have also run four marathons and a couple of triathlons, but I’d say the achievement I am most proud of is being part of the organising committee for the Mullingar Half Marathon.

I have been involved every year since it was established in 2015. There 600 participants in that one and it has grown year on year, and there were more than 1,400 participants in 2019.

The event was established to promote running, promote Mullingar and raise money for charity. I get a great buzz out of seeing the crowds of runners line up on Pearse Street and flowing out of town.

There is a great sense of achievement at the end of the day when everyone gets home safe and enjoys the day.

I took over the role of race director from Jason Scarff in 2020. However, the event could not go ahead as planned due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so we are planning and hoping for a return later this year. We have not finalised a date yet, but we are looking at sometime in the autumn, if possible.

We have big plans which we will announce as soon as we have more certainty about the Covid situation. It would be great to give people something to look forward to and train for.

List your current PBs

My PBs for shorter distances would have been run when I was younger and I don’t remember them now.

In later years I ran the 2012 and 2013 Dublin Marathons in 3:10 and the 2013 Athlone Half Marathon in 1:28.

If things get back to normal, I might try attack a couple of those PBs in the future.

How have the Covid-19 restrictions affected your training or racing plans?

I have been working from home during the restrictions, which has been a positive experience as it has allowed me more time with my family and I have been able to get out running more often.

I have no racing plans at the moment, but I would love to do a marathon this year, if things open up. I am also working on the plans for the 2021 Mullingar Half Marathon.

What advice or training tips would you give to anyone who is now looking to take up running?

This is a good time to take up running, especially if you are working from home or out of work. It is a great way to clear your head if you are in the house all day.

I’d recommend starting small and building it up. Just get out and walk and jog for as long as you feel you can at first, leave the watch and tracker at home, don’t worry about pace or distance.

Then, when you feel comfortable, follow a plan and stick to it. Start with a couch to 5k and progress from there.

Before long, you’ll be reaping all the benefits that running brings, along with a few niggles here and there, but that’s all part of it!

What are your lifetime goals and/or PBs?

My only goal is to stay fit and healthy enough to run a few more marathons and if I can improve on my current PB of 3:10, then all the better. I’m grateful to be able to run and I enjoy it (most of the time!), so that itself is a blessing.

What is your favourite post race meal?

I don’t really have a favourite post-race meal, to be honest. I just kind of see how I feel after a long run or race and then go with that.

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