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Pat O’Driscoll

My son Neil and I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC on Sunday 22 October 2000. We were aiming to finish the race in four hours. This was my eighth and Nell's first marathon. Winning £10.00 in the Shankill 050 being my only financial reward from running I thought that the Marine Corps Marathon which had no prize money would suit us great. 19,432 other runners had the same idea. At registration on the Friday Neil, my sister Helen (who lives in Washington DC) and I attended a Running Expo and a lecture given by Jeff Galloway who is a renowned USA marathon guru. Jeff said that he had teams with target times of 3.20 Q hours 20 minutes), 3.40, 4.00 and 4.15 and that his cunning plan for 4.00s was that we would walk for 1 minute every mile. Neil and I thought that this was a brilliant idea and signed up for Jeffs team. At the Expo we were given "champion chips" to tie to one of our shoes which would result in everyone being given their actual times and split times at halfway and 16 miles. Jeff asked us to meet for a team talk at 7.00 am on the day of the race. The team talk was something like the oiianrsiKni corrosion awareness evening in Toy Story 1.

The race started at 8.30 am at the Oujiama Monument. We followed Jeff who had a green flag and a team of about 50. The first mile was alarmingly fast and the minute walk extremely welcome. The second mile was even faster and in mile 3 we were overtaken by some of Jeffs colleague's 3.40 team which was not part of the script. By this stage Jeff was vanishing over the horizon with his flag and possibly some of his team, and Neil and I started to think of survival. Religiously we walked a minute every mile and ran at our own pace and were still going great guns until about mile 18 when we were disheartened by the legend on the tee-shin of a US Marine runner "The beatings w/// continue till moral improves". At mile 20 both Neil and I were in trouble and decided to walk 2 minutes every mile which became 3 in mile 21. Approaching mile 23 I croaked to Neil "your old man '$ finished I have to walk". Never have I made a suggestion to any of my 4 children which received such an enthusiastic response! We were now running only about 1 minute a mile but made a staggering improvement in mile 26 and finished together in 4.51.21. (in 28 degrees). Helen rubbed salt in our wounds by telling us that Jeff had finished in 4 hours on the dot. Before I could remark a US Marine untied my champion chip and gave it to me, Neil surprised, asked what it was, I said "that's the chip your Father wore".