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Meet the Members – Stephen Gallagher

Categories: Member Profiles

Q1. When and why did you first take up running?

I started running on and off about 5 years ago, mainly as a way to keep fit and to try lose the extra bit of insulation I’d added over the years. Initially running on my own, I then managed to rope a colleague into joining me at lunchtimes. After a while we decided to enter a race, the first race we entered was Lisburn 10K and then Belfast Half marathon. It’s fair to say I was bitten by the bug at this point.

Q2. What running-related achievement are you most proud of and why?

There are a few achievements that I’m proud of. Completing Belfast & Mourne Way Marathons and taking part in the clubs 24 in 24 challenge to name some. Each holds a sense of pride and achievement for me but the 2019 Belfast Marathon is definitely the one that gives me goose bumps when I think about it. It was my first marathon; I had a goal in mind and in the end, I finished with a time that far exceeded my expectations. I loved every minute of the race, especially running through the parts of North Belfast where I grew up and seeing so many friends and family on the route.

Q.3 What is your favourite race and why?

Probably Belfast Marathon, it holds great memories for me and being my first marathon it’s one that I will never forget. I’m also strangely proud to be from Belfast, it’s a great city and the new route (even with the extra bit added on!) really shows it off. Hopefully it can continue to grow from strength to strength.

Q4. After we get through these uncertain times, what is your next big running goal?

I’d love to push for a sub 3hr marathon, it was my aim pre lockdown and I’ll hopefully get the chance again… Sometime! I’ve also fallen into the trap during lockdown of watching documentaries about ultra marathons and ultra runners so an ultra is definitely on the radar.

Q5. What is your favourite workout and why?

Hard to beat Tuesday night interval sessions. The variety from week to week is great and I love pushing myself at the session. It’s definitely a workout that I come away feeling that I’ve put a shift in and left nothing out there.

Q6. What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you while running?

Thankfully I tend to keep my embarrassing moments for my solo runs. They usually involve me running scared from dogs, or at least what I perceive to be massive blood thirsty beasts (think the Doberman in The Omen). I once stopped for good 5 to 10 minutes weighing up whether or not a hare was a dog, in the end I think it felt sorry for me and moved on.
I did try and eat an electrolyte tablet during 24 in 24. I’d never used them before and didn’t exactly read the directions. I wondered why it was so disgusting and how everyone else was able to take them, that was until someone pointed out you are meant to add them to water first! My face at the time probably said it all, even now my face is turning thinking about it.

Q7. When and why did you join Mallusk Harriers?

I joined in October 2018. I really enjoyed Belfast Half and wanted to experience the full marathon so the next day I decided to enter Belfast. I knew from other people’s experiences that training for it on my own would be tough. I was aware of the club prior to joining and knew Paul Skillen, I reached out to Paul who recommended joining the club. I haven’t looked back since and it’s easily one of the best decisions I have made.

Q8. What have you learned most about yourself since you started running?

That I am stronger that thought I was, both mentally and physically. I never thought I’d be able to complete a marathon; the thought of the distance was totally daunting. But with hard work and determination I was able get through it.

Q9. Outside of running, what is your favourite activity or hobby?

Football. I used to love playing, now it’s mainly watching apart from the odd kickabout in the back garden. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to follow my team across the country and further afield. The young lad is now getting into football, so it’s the perfect excuse to go on a Saturday afternoon again!

Q10. Name one club member that inspires you and why?

This is a tough question, there are so many inspirational people at the club. Who each in their own way have helped improve my running and inspire me to do better. Narrowing it down to one person, I would say Neil Campbell. His attitude to running and training is fantastic. He is always encouraging and willing to pass on his knowledge, I would say he definitely inspires me to do better and push myself as far as I can.

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