A LURGAN man’s attempt to run his first marathon in 26 years was foiled by the devastating Superstorm Sandy.
Dwyer O’Connor had been training for 11 months for the New York marathon, but shortly after arriving in the Big Apple, he learnt the showpiece event had been cancelled due to the effect of storm on the city.
Dwyer, who completed the Dublin marathon in three hours and 48 minutes 26 years ago, had the consolation of running an unofficial marathon around Central Park to mark his comeback.
Dwyer arrived in New York City at 1pm on Friday, November 2 from the Belfast flight and headed straight for the registration at the Jacob’s Convention Centre.
“We’d registered and picked up our bibs and news started to fly about that the marathon had been cancelled,” he told the ‘MAIL’.
“Firstly I was shocked, then it sunk in that after all the training and fundraising, lost time and a stone in weight was all for nothing.
“It was a lifetime ambition. It had been 26 years since my last marathon and I’d really put a lot of effort into this.”
Dwyer had raised over £4,500 for Southern Area Hospice in advance of the marathon and felt he needed to do something to honour that commitment.
He said: “Me and two other guys from the Hospice did four laps of Central Park on Sunday.
“It was a marathon, not official, but we honoured our pledge for the charities and did the distance along with another 20,000 in the park, just like the real thing.
“The rest of the time I spent touring the art galleries and museums.”
Dwyer, a member of St Peters Athletic’s Club, was also able to lend a hand in the relief effort by donating his clothes to a collection point in New York City.
He returned to Lurgan on Saturday night (November 10) after a 52 hour delay and was reunited with his wife Jennifer and his children who had supported him throughout his marathon effort.
Ironically in the year the New York Marathon was cancelled, Dwyer could end up with two medals.
He’s already received his medal for the New York Marathon and is due to take part in a marathon in Dublin this Sunday organised for those who travelled to New York and were unable to compete.
He said: “Sports Travel International from Dublin took over 350 people to New York, including 76 from Belfast (six from Southern Area Hospice and 70 from Action Cancer).
“They have arranged a marathon in Dublin this Sunday for all who didn’t get to run, so I may have two medals for two marathons in two weeks in the year the marathon was cancelled.”