The latest Harrier to take part in our Meet the Members series is mountain and ultra man Lee O’Boyle. Hope you enjoy!
Q1. When and why did you first take up running?
I first took up running at school, I was a member of the Cross-County team and participated in inter school competitions.
I was never any good at football or other team sports. Athletics seemed to click with me from a young age and I have fond memories of hearing Freddie Mercury’s voice ringing out ‘Barcelona’ as I watched just about every minute of the ‘92 Olympics.
Q2. What running-related achievement are you most proud of and why?
Seeing a full Translink bus of Mallusk Harriers making their way to Lurgan XC for the final race of the season, a season both men and ladies teams finished in the league prize money. When I joined the club there was just no interest in XC, but over time me and Suzanne as captains managed to break down barriers and ‘persuade/force’ more and more Harriers to join in. Seeing over 30 harrier vests in spikes at races that season filled me with pride with what we had achieved.
Q.3 What is your favourite race and why?
Race Over the Glens. Absolutely love this race and there is no better way to kick off the year with it being on New Year’s Day. A perfect trail race with a bit of everything, fast trail, technical downhills and a tortuous uphill finish past the amazing waterfalls of Glenariff forest park. Couple all of that with the sound of bagpipes ringing out across the glens, it is hard to beat!
Q4. After we get through these uncertain times, what is your next big running goal?
There is still the possibility of representing N.I. in the 100km Anglo Celtic Plate, it was postponed to September and is yet to be cancelled. It will be top of the list if it goes ahead, not every day you get a chance to represent your country.
If not, I have been training hard for mountain/trail ultras, I’d like to have a good crack at the Mourne Skyline or Maurice Mullins if they go ahead in October.
Q5. What is your favourite workout and why?
This one changes quite often and very much depends on what I am training for. At the moment I am really loving long uphill trail reps, like 4 x 8mins uphill on Cavehill. It is very tough but also very rewarding.
Q6. What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you while running?
I’ll blame Mark Smith for this one! He had been telling me about beetroot shots, so I gave them a try and took 2 of the concentrated ones before Portaferry 5 mile a few years ago.
Needless to say, my gut was not particularly happy about that and it is the first race I have genuinely had to start looking for an emergency exit! Thankfully, I made it to the end and straight to the port-a-loo. I guess it was the ‘what could have happened’ that was embarrassing to me, but most onlookers didn’t notice. On the other hand, when I crossed the line at Connemara Ultra, throwing up in front of many a man, woman and child, there were plenty of people who noticed, but I was too knackered to be embarrassed!
Q7. When and why did you join Mallusk Harriers?
I joined in August 2017. Over my 20s I had gotten incredibly unfit and was struggling to kick a bad diet and smoking habit.
I always said I’d stop when I had kids, but now I was in my 30s and had 2 kids and still smoking. I decided to rekindle my love of running in the hope I could stop smoking for good. Thankfully as I started running faster and more competitively the reward of running became much more important than nicotine.
Q8. What have you learned most about yourself since you started running?
That I am unbelievably determined (and selfish) and incredibly lucky to have a wife who allows me the freedom to train crazy amounts of hours in order to achieve the goals I set. First it turned in to training for a marathon, then it turned in to training for a sub 3, then it turned in to 10 hour training runs in the Mournes. I have learned that I thrive on the pain and in a way it is an internal search for proving myself against ‘struggle’ in an otherwise fortunately comfortable life.
Q9. Outside of running, what is your favourite activity or hobby?
What? There is life outside of running? Like a true Harrier, this one has to be alcohol based doesn’t it? I love travelling and am also fond of a nice bottle of wine, holidays used to be planned around stays at nice vineyards, now they need to be nice vineyards near big mountains.
Q10. Name one club member that inspires you and why?
Sorry, I can’t narrow this down to one, I’m even having difficulty narrowing it down to 2! Neil Campbell really took me under his wing when I joined the Harriers. He gave me the belief that I could run a marathon, the same belief he gives to many members when they join the club. Always happy to listen (and talk!) and gives great advice in any situation.
Micky McAuley – I used to look on with awe at the events Micky took part in, thinking ‘I could never do that’.
But now I am doing it and everything I have learned about navigation and mountain running has come from him, he has been a great mentor. Every training run I learn something new and there are many pearls of wisdom.. just the other day after crossing some very dodgy underfoot conditions he said: “on ground like that every foot is landing with a prayer” or in other words, that maybe wasn’t the best idea