Starting on Top of the Mountain

December 22, 2023

After introducing our readers to Michael Cornyn last week by sharing some of his PBs and the work he does in the development of Athletics in Meath and broadly at Masters level, we thought we would dig deeper into how his running life got out of the traps. 

Michael told Run Republic that it was his brother's running success that sparked his interest in competing himself, 'My brother started playing Gaelic football and also doing a bit of running. He won the Leitrim Community games 100m and went to Mosney. He started winning a good few medals and I thought I would try it.'

'If you can imagine what some of the people thought back in the 70's living on the top of a mountain (we lived 2nd last house on the top of the mountain) and seeing this guy out running on the roads in a vest and shorts!'

Michael shared with us what his fathers thoughts were about competition and says that maybe this mindset was common back in those days, 'My father was supposed to have been a good footballer, but he never showed any interest in sport when we were young and there was always this feeling of “don’t go too far or you will be beaten”, so don’t be too ambitious. It was probably part and parcel of most of rural Ireland at that time.'

Despite this, Michael began to take part in local races around Leitrim, claiming medals in many, which ultimately led to him joining his first Athletics Club, 'I started running at around 14 years old, and thankfully Leitrim Vocational schools decided to have a County Championships around then. I won every event at the local schools trials and then headed for the County Championships with a warning that one of the best 800m runners in the county would be competing for Ballinamore PP school.

'I remember tracking this guy until about 300m from the finish when I took off and running in fear that I would be passed at any moment I glanced back about 10m from the line and this guy was just entering the finishing straight. I then went to the County Championships to compete, but was told that I could not enter as I was not a member of a club, so I promptly asked to join North Leitrim AC as I knew a few of the lads competing there.'

This was the birth of that winning feeling for Michael, a feeling which has been a familiar one ever since. 

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