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Aidan Hogan - Ultra-Athlete – Guest Article by John Walshe


This article, by John Walshe, appeared in the Evening Echo, on Saturday January 5th 2019

 aidan hogan photo john walshe a


One of the beautiful aspects of athletics is its diversity of disciplines – ranging from track and field, to cross-country and road running, along with race walking.

This was certainly evident at the recent Irish Life Health National Athletics Awards which were held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Blanchardstown. Three Cork athletes were honoured. The Inspirational Performance of the Year on Irish Soil went to Phil Healy for a race that took a little over 20 seconds; the Endurance Athlete of the Year was awarded to Alex Wright of Leevale whose preferred walking distance is 50km. And then, the Ultra-Athlete of the Year award went to a man who covered the prodigious distance of 151.4 miles (243.59km) in 24 hours.


aidan hogan national athletics awards 2018

Aidan Hogan, a member of Rising Sun AC, lives in Blackrock and is no ordinary athlete. His story of how he gained international honours at an event that literary takes a full day and how, after coming back to running seven years ago has now notched up over 220 marathons or longer events, is certainly an inspiring one.

Aidan started off as a juvenile, inspired by his father Joe who still competes in field events in the over-80 category. “I actually took part in both the Dublin and London marathons in my teens but then I emigrated at 18, got married and had six kids. But after going off cigarettes in 2011 at the age of 38, I said I would get fit again,” he explains.

“I started off swimming but was itching to get back on the road. I was paranoid that people would be laughing at me but I went out one day and did five miles, it felt like 50. The Cork Marathon was on so I decided to do that at the last minute. I was hoping to do it in four hours but I finished in 3:30.”

An increase in training saw another dozen or so marathons completed that year, including Amsterdam where he recorded 3:01. He now averages 40 to 50 a year, with a best of 2:52. “I should be around 2:42 but when you are putting the miles in you kind of give up the speed for the distance,” he says.

His introduction to the ultra-scene came after he met Jan Uzik, a native of Slovakia, on a training run. “I used to see him every week and one day I stopped and asked him why I didn’t see him in any marathons. He told me he was running a 24-hour race and I looked at him and thought, ‘he’s loco’. Two weeks later, I met him again and he told me he’d won it.

“From then on, I got to know the guy and he put the idea into my head. I decided to enter the race in Belfast the following year and with advice from Jan I increased my training from 40/50 miles a week to anything from 100 to 150 miles. That would consist of five 20-mile runs plus a marathon. The first couple of months were tough, but then I got used to it.”

At Belfast, Hogan covered a total of 147.9 miles (238km), the furthest debut distance ever achieved by an Irishman. This gained him selection for the European Championships in France, and a chance to wear the Irish vest. Since then, he has completed four more 24-hour events, including the World Championships which was incorporated into the 2017 Belfast event, and another European Championship in Romania.

With the 2019 World Championship 24-hour scheduled for Albi in France in October, training now begins in earnest. “You start thinking about it in January and then by February you’re into it full swing. I class marathons as part of my training and often run three or four back to back.”

As ultra-running is not yet an Olympic sport, financial aid from the governing bodies doesn’t exist. Despite being a national champion and having represented his country, Hogan receives nothing in the way of sponsorship. “The shoes are the biggest expense, a pair would last you at the most six weeks and then you have to have to have two pairs, one on and one off.

“I get no help at all, of the 220-plus marathons I’ve ran, I’ll tell you the truth I’ve slept in the back of the car the night before 190 of them,” he admits.


* Any company or individual interested in sponsoring Aidan Hogan in preparation for next October’s 24-hour World Championship, in Albi, France, can contact him at: 085-2281822


irish 24 hour championship podium 2018 Aidan Hogan (centre) after claiming the Irish 24 Hour Championship Title, in Belfast, last July

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