Get to know…Mark O’Gara

For this weeks chosen club member we are joined by the man who has great ambitions for 2017. Mark is just about to embark on his most ambitious (or stupid) Spring marathon season with four marathons in 7 weeks. This will include the Barcelona Marthon and then a sub-3 attempt at Manchester on April 2nd and then followed by Brighton (his 7th time0 and then topping it all off with London. No one can accuse Mark of not trying and for those that have had the pleasure of training with Mark then you will no that he takes no prisoners with his training regime, there are no half measures with him. Mark is an absolute gent and a real pleasure to have in the club and he is one of life’s good eggs. Ladies and gentlemen I think you are going to enjoy thie read so please be seated comfortably and let’s begin…

Name: Mark O’Gara

1. When did you join Arena:
June 2011.

2. How long have you been running:
Since 2006, properly since 2009 (Bob would probably point out that I have never run properly!).

3. Where did you grow up:
Manchester.

4. What was the last thing you bought:
Two pints of Guinness and a bag of nuts after the Brighton HM, better than a recovery milkshake! (admin says: these questions were given to Mark a few weeks ago so please don’t think he’s tight with his cash).

5. What one thing (not human) would you take with you on a deserted island:
A giant tool box to get me started on building a decent shelter. Anyone who knows me, will know this is totally ridiculous as I come out in a rash at the thought of any DIY, but just being practical.

6. What were you like at school:
One of my school reports described me as having potential to do well at school if I stop trying to be the ‘clown of the class’.

7. Tell me about something you would happily do again:
The 16 months my wife (Lara) and I spent travelling and we will do it again one day, hopefully some of it with the kids.

8. Name 3 people that you would have round for dinner (living or deceased):
Peter Kay, Michael Palin and Billy Connolly.

9. Tell us about something you’re proud to have achieved:
Having left school with no qualifications whatsoever just before my 16th birthday and then going straight into a factory job it would have to be gaining my GCSE’s and A-Levels at college In the evenings whilst I was working full time during my early – mid 20’s. I failed all my exams in the first year, but I picked myself up and persevered. This then opened the door to university in Brighton and then professional qualifications (sometimes it does not pay to be the clown of the class!).

Running wise is probably my 2.57 at last year’s Paris Marathon. It was great to break the mythical barrier after a few attempts, but to be honest the marathon itself was non-eventful and went bang on plan which I suppose reinforces the mantra ‘trust in your training’.

10. What’s your favourite book, magazine or comic:
Ooh tough one, no one particular favourite but on the list would be Lord of the rings – Tolkien, Midnight’s children – Rushdie, Around the world in 80 day’s – Jules Verne, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Thompson.

11. Tell us something we don’t know about you:
I have Australian citizenship, can’t you tell by my accent!!

12. Have you ever won anything:
The football team I played in from under12 to under 16 won the league and cup every year. I have to admit I was mainly a substitute as it was a really good team (and I wasn’t that good). However, I did share the subs bench in the last year with a certain Mark Robins who wen ton to play for Manchester United (he was also not good enough to gain a regular place in the team).

13. What do you do to relax:
DIY (ha ha). Lara would say I’m permanently relaxing and very good at shirking responsibilities around the house. I do enjoy summer Saturday afternoons/evenings in the garden, having a beer and Barbie with family and friends. there is an official invitation for anyone from Arena who wants to pop round after this years Downlands fun run (admin says: Sunday 25th June for those wanting to party) which takes place across the road from our house.

14. If you could try out any job for a day, what would you like to try:
As an accountant is there any other job more exciting that you would want to try, I’m already living the dream….

15. What did you do with your time before running:
Obsessed about getting a visa and moving the family to Australia. With the residency visa in place I waited until Lara was sleep depraved a week after the birth of our second child and convinced her now was the time to make the move for a few years until the kids reached school age then we could move back to Brighton. Before Lara realised what she’d agreed to, I had booked the flights and handed in my notice at work. A few months later we had stored all our possessions in the loft, rented the house out and moved to Perth with just four suitcases and two pushchairs for the kids!

16. What is most important in life:
Obviously family and friends are number one but I would also say making your dreams become a reality whether it be career, sport or anything else. many ambitions and dreams can be realised, you just have to plan the route and run the course to reach the goal, (‘m impressed with myself there, quite a profound statement and managed to link it to running!!!).

17. Who in your life has influenced you the most:
Another tough one, I think I always have and always will be influenced by those around me at the time, pick up the good points and try and apply them.

18. What’s your earliest memory of a toy that you had:
My red airport fire truck, loved it.

19. Have you anything you want to do on your bucket list:
Spending a year or two travelling around Europe and the Australia in a campervan/caravan.
Running wise – Comrades.

20. Who is your sporting hero:
Sir Alex Ferguson.
My running sporting hero is my mate at work Diane. She has a can do attitude and anything is possible, inspirational. At aged fifty, Di ran fifty races in a year including Beachy Head Marathon on the Saturday backed up with Barnes Green HM on the Sunday. Last year at 60 she ran the SDW50, London to Brighton and the SDW100 in 23 hours. Di is a beginners coach at Burgess Hill RC and responsible for me getting into running.

Our biggest thanks to Mark for his Q&A’s this week and we hope that you feel that you have now got to know Mark a little better. Check back next Wednesday for another set of Q&A’s with our chosen club member.