Longford Leader gallery: Longford great Ray Flynn returns home

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Irish mile and 1,500 metres record holder Ray Flynn returned to his native county on Monday as he led over 100 runners through Longford town for a special event named in his honour.

The revered former athlete was the centre of attention for the aptly dubbed 'Ray Flynn Mile' some 35 years on from his record breaking exploits in Oslo, Norway.

The Longford Express ran a total of 89 sub four minute miles during an illustrious career and along with Eamonn Coghlan, Frank O’Mara and Marcus O’Sullivan, anchored the famous Irish 4 X 1 Mile Relay Team that set a world record in the GOAL Meeting in Belfield in 1985.

From early evening, participants could be seen limbering up along the main Ballinalee Road from where proceedings ultimately got underway.

The lure of the Flynn name returning to his own back yard and taking on an event which came to define much of his career certainly went down well with those who took part as clubs from across the midlands and wider region took to the road.

Athletics Ireland, who spearheaded the event alongside local marathon veteran Liam Fenelon, were out in force.

There was an appearance too from Frank Greally, editor of the Irish Runner magazine.

And, as runners crossed the finish line in the backdrop of St Mel's Cathedral, the Longford Arms was the venue for some welcome respite and light refreshments.

Among the onlookers to greet Ray and those who took part was three time Olympian and former world 5,000m champion Eamon Coughlan as well as GOAL founder John O'Shea.

The evening, however, belonged to a certain Longfordian, who, more than three decades on from arguably his finest hour, took on and was able to relive those memories among his own.