Mike McShane, our friend — 15 June 2015
Hi everyone. It’s a tremendous honour for me to be asked by Angela, Julia and Margo to speak this afternoon, because Mike was my friend and he was a great friend.
I first met Mike over 20 years ago when I ran for the first time with Helsby Running Club. Mike kindly shepherded me around the mid-week club run and over the following years he shepherded me a whole lot more. Mike was there with help and support when I was setting up my business 13 years ago and he was always there with help and advice throughout each of the next 13 years. We also trained together and travelled to races together.
Running was a big part of Mike’s life and it’s great to see such strong representation here today from both Ellesmere Port and Helsby Running Clubs, to remember Mike. Mike trained with and raced for both clubs and it’s no exaggeration to say that he was a stalwart of Helsby for over 25 years, an ever present at our Wednesday Club Nights and only last month he was marshalling at our Sandstone Trail Challenge event and earlier this year, at the 4 Villages ½ Marathon.
Now what many people won’t know about is Mike’s running history. Mike raced across different distances but it was the full and ½ Marathons which were his favourites and where he had most success. Mike ran all the local ½ Marathons many times each and a great many Marathons including the classics of London, Snowden and Dublin – multiple times and he was no slouch either with a sub 3 hours 20 minutes Personal Best time to his name.
Now I mention that Mike’s preferred distances were the ½ and full Marathons because Mike wasn’t really interested in short distance races like 5K (which is just over 3 miles) because he felt that by the time he’d got going, the race was over! So you can imagine my surprise when I was spectating at the West Cheshire 5K many years ago, when suddenly, along came Mike, in full club kit, racing flat out. Well, I was so shocked to see him that instead of encouraging him, I shouted out “what on earth are you doing here!”
Curiously, Mike didn’t acknowledge my comment as he ran past, breathing heavily and dripping in sweat – although he did advise me after the race that he hadn’t found my words very motivating! However Mike’s brief dalliance with the shorter distances ended that evening and thereafter Mike stuck to 13.1s and 26.2s!
Now for those of you who are unfamiliar with how you approach a 26.2 mile race, because you’re preparing for what is the toughest event in the road-racing calendar, it’s critical that you get your pre-race carbo-loading, hydration and rest, bang on, in readiness for the huge challenge ahead. So your goal is to toe the start line, fully rested, with a full fuel tank and without a hint of dehydration.
Mike’s Dublin Marathon preparations were – different – to say the least. Mike would travel to Dublin on Saturday and then he’d spend the day acquainting himself with some well-known Irish traditions – you know the sort of traditions I mean, they come in a glass and they’re black in colour! Mike would then follow up by running the race. Except that unlike other races, the Dublin Marathon doesn’t take place on a Sunday, it’s staged on a Monday, which gives most runners a further opportunity to ensure that they’re rested, fully carbed up and well hydrated. Unless of course you were following Mike’s training plan which involved repeating Saturday’s ‘traditions’ ALL day Sunday! And then amazingly, Mike would turn out for the Marathon on Monday morning! I always marvelled at Mike’s ability to combine such a tough race with his unique version of carbo-loading and still manage to cross the finishing line in one piece!
Now over the last couple of years, Mike’s running had been interrupted with a few injuries, most notably to his calves and I had the pleasure of treating him to help get him back training and racing again. However this is where Mike and I had a difference of opinion. Mike was convinced that I had an evil streak in me and that my massages were some sort of sadistic torture which I enjoyed dishing out! (This is completely untrue I should add!). I can picture him on my massage couch now, protesting through gritted teeth and claiming that never before had the word ‘treating’ been used so inaccurately!
Mike also represented Helsby in the inter-club Border League races. I can distinctly remember way back in 1998 where having ‘heavily indulged’ the night before, Mike arrived barely minutes before the start of the Buckley race and then try as he might, he simply couldn’t keep still. Or more accurately he couldn’t stop swaying from side-to-side! But Mike wasn’t going to let a minor inconvenience like a fuzzy head and the challenge of remaining upright, prevent him from racing and yes – he successfully completed the course (apart from a brief stop en route to ‘clear his system’)!
Now at Helsby Running Club we have a very active FaceBook group and I’d like to share with you a few of the lovely comments which have been posted about Mike over the last week and which I feel really sum up the warmth and affection with which Mike was so rightly held – not just in our club but overall:
Mike was a top bloke, a good friend, a stalwart of the club and will be sadly missed.
Such a nice bloke and very welcoming to me when I joined the club. The club will be a sadder place without him, Wednesday nights certainly will be.
His cheery nature and self-deprecating humour will be sorely missed.
A nicer person you couldn’t wish to meet.
And this final comment which I feel encapsulates Mike so well:
A Gentleman Runner.
Mike McShane. Our Friend.