Fans of running, Plainville Irish pub tackle Dublin marathon


PLAINVILLE (AP) >> The musical lilt of the Irish accent mingled with the r-less "pahked cahs" in the Boston way of speaking while the Guinness flowed freely Thursday night in the cheerful Chieftain Pub.

Thursdays are the start of the weekend for many and the popular Route 1 watering hole was packed.

The Chieftain is all things Irish, of course, with owners Tom and Mary Cahill hailing from the auld sod.

And tucked away in a back corner was a special group of Chieftain fans who, perhaps partly joking and partly serious, went a long way to prove it.

They didn't look too much different than other patrons except that they were spare in flesh and had a healthy glow that came from a source other than the stout Irish beer they were imbibing.

It's not the body type one would expect to see crowded around a pub table.

But there they were, enviously thin, laughing, drinking and talking about where they had been — Ireland.

The Emerald Isle, the land of St. Patrick and the ancestral home millions of Americans.

"We did a good job of running, finishing and having a really good time," Sandy Sheehy said.

Sheehy is the president of the Wampanoag Runners, a group which laces up its running shoes as often as the sun rises and hits the road for long lopes across the countryside putting in 30 to 60 miles a week. Sometimes even 90, one member said.

And as group, it's clear they don't suffer the loneliness of the long distance runner, except perhaps at certain points when pain sets in and finishing the race becomes a very personal battle that none but one's own will can win.

The races are not short. They're marathons, 26.2 miles for you couch potatoes, and this group revels in them.

They've all run and finished multiple marathons, the latest being in Dublin on Oct. 26.

The trip was an idea that pushed its way across the finish line as they enjoyed some brews after their latest conquest of the Boston Marathon. Many members run in it every year and then celebrate after at the Chieftain.

Beer has iron and carbohydrates that restores their depleted bodies, they said with a bit of a glimmer in the eye.

Not a reason most people drink it, but clearly one has to take their word.

Anyway, the plan was laid to go to Ireland.

"We said we've got to go and see what the Chieftain is all about," Sheehy said.

All told 16 made the trip. Of that number 11 ran and 11 finished. And they weren't at the back of the pack.

Sheehy, 51, of North Attleboro, finished 5th in her age group.

Joe Kvilhaug, 65, of Taunton, finished 2nd in his age group.

Stephanie Moses, 25, of North Attleboro, sliced 13 minutes off her personal record and qualified to run in Boston next April.

The race was a little slower for Dan Pitts, 61, of Norton, who described himself as a "slogger."

"Two months before I was talking about going as a spectator, but I slogged through it. Finishing was good."

Bill McGinnis 61, out of Cumberland, R.I., described the race as "not as tough as Boston, but not easy."

The locals attended in force and urged runners on with "well done lad," "well done lassie" and "brilliant."

And while the race was the reason for the trip, the runners didn't stop there.

They filled free time learning about their host country with an emphasis on the pubs and churches.

"When you're in Dublin, you do as the Dubliners do," McGinnis said.

Meanwhile, one of them ran right into her own family history.

Marianne Mealy, 28, of Foxboro, went looking for directions in a nursing home and found a friend of her grandfather. He grew up in the area, before moving to America at 15.

As if some mystical force was guiding her, she went right into the room of an old timer and during the conversation asked if he knew her grandfather Richard Kichnet.

And miracle of miracles, he did. A childhood friend he was.

Ironically, her gramps wasn't athletically inclined but he was "studious" which has its own helpful attributes in life's long run.

Long trips are nothing new for this group. They head out every couple of years. They've run in marathons Tahoe, Richmond, Chicago, Philadelphia and Berlin.

And down the road, Reykjavik, (that would be in Iceland for you couch potatoes), is coming into view after they've put away some cash.

Clearly the Wampanoag Runners have read the motto and know what The Chieftain is all about.

Information from: The (Attleboro) Sun Chronicle,


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