“I’m from Geashill, Co Offaly. Up to about six or seven years ago I was milking cows. Now we just have dry cattle.

I’m into running. The Dublin Marathon at the end of October this year was my 600th marathon. I often used to have to get up at all hours to milk the cows before going to a marathon.

Getting started

How I got into running? Well, it happened by accident at the start.

I did a lot of travelling years ago. I used to work in New Zealand, Australia, New York and the UK. Mary Bernadette, my wife, she’s American. We’ve four grown-up children. Some of them are into running too, and rugby.

I used to play Aussie Rules when I lived in Australia. I played a lot of Gaelic football and hurling too with my local parish teams here and in Australia.

I came back to Ireland in 1984 after being away a couple of years. I arrived in Dublin and all these people were walking down O’Connell St of a Sunday. The Dublin Marathon was on the Monday those times.

I asked this fella, “What’s on? Where are ye all going?” He didn’t answer me for a minute, he thought I was codding him. He said: “The Dublin Marathon is on tomorrow.”

My uncle lived in Dublin at the time and I asked him about it. He said: “It’ll be on television now in a while.” I asked him: “Can anyone do it.” And he said: “Oh yeah, I think there’s no problem.”

The following year I was in Dublin and I signed up for it the day before, because that time you didn’t have to register in advance. I did it and I thought it was fun. The following Thursday then I went to New York and I signed up for the New York Marathon, which was on the Sunday.

There were very few marathons in Ireland that time, you only had Dublin and Belfast for years. Then about 17 or 18 years ago, all of a sudden, a whole lot of marathons started at once. So then there were six in Ireland.

The following year there were twice or three times as many. I started doing them all around the country and it just went from there.

COVID came and a lot of marathons went the last two years, but hopefully they’ll all come back next year. I’ve done 13 marathons in Australia and 25 in the States.

You’d often see a little problem with an animal as you go along the road running. Sometimes in the Connemara Marathon I’d see a sheep caught in the sheep wire. I’d just have to bend the wire and get their head out. I’d be always thinking that the magpies could come along and peck their eyes.

This summer I was running the Kildare Marathon and I saw a sheep on its back. I said, sure nobody might see that sheep down there until tomorrow and she’d be dead. So I just went down, turned her over and came back again, but I couldn’t get back over the fence. I had to run a mile down along the Curragh.

Training time

I like the idea of being able to walk or run the marathon distance [26.2 miles]. Nobody’s bothered about your time, once you finish. You get to meet an awful lot of people.

Anyway, what else am I going to do? I can’t go back footballing or hurling. I don’t want to sit here looking out the window yet. I have to keep going.

I don’t have to train too much. It depends what’s on the weekend. I do five miles Monday to Friday. Then if there’s a marathon on Saturday, I don’t train Friday and I do the marathon the following day.

But if there’s a marathon Saturday and Sunday, I don’t go out Friday or Monday. If there’s no marathon the weekend, I’d do five miles Monday to Friday. Then there’s a Park Run not far from me on Saturday, I volunteer there when I can. Then on Sunday I’d do a half marathon myself.

I don’t bother with special drinks, gels and all that. I found I don’t care for them that much. Just regular water does me. I know that doesn’t sound great to all these people who go in for all the energy stuff.

Larry Rigney with his daughter Sinéad Rigney at the Dublin Marathon recently. It was the 600th marathon Larry had completed.

I just get the breakfast before I go. When I come back I’ll eat something, whatever I find on the road. I often bring €5 with me and stop for a coffee and a bar along the way when I’m running.

I’d say to anyone starting off, get good shoes and leave your watch at home. Don’t be looking at the watch all the time, because that kills you. Go off down the country and do your first and second marathon where no one knows you.

Larry Rigney at the Dublin Marathon.

I’ll keep going at them anyway. You can’t really plan numbers. When I started, I said I’d do 50. Someone said, “Would you not do 100.” Then I went on to do 100 and thought, what’s the point in stopping now? I’ll go on for another while.