Johnny’s bite of the Big Apple

by Gillian McDade

A MAGHERAFELT man will be stepping out in New York next weekend, hoping to get a bite of the Big Apple.

Johnny Callan (38) will be running the New York Marathon, hoping to secure a time of just over four hours - and it’s all for a good cause.

Among a group of seven, Johnny will be raising money for Cancer Focus NI, a charity close to his heart.

And along with his brother-in-law, Cookstown man and passionate MS awareness campaigner Conor Devine, the pair have set their target at £7,000.

Conor, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, will also be fundraising for Action MS, a charity which he has championed.

Training has been going well for both men, although Conor was recently hampered by a hamstring injury.

Despite the setback, both men are looking forward to the New York challenge which will see competitors pass through the five boroughs of New York City - Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan.

The runners will pass through many ethnically diverse neighbourhoods and cross five bridges before finishing in the world-famous Central Park.

Johnny, who owns his own wine import company, told the MAIL that his father was diagnosed with a brain tumour in April this year so he decided to raise money for a charity which supports people in a similar position.

The Magherafelt man has been training with Damian McErlain from Genesis Breads to ensure he is on top form.

“Training has been going well,” he said. “We got up to 20 miles and then we tapered off, so we’re in and around the 10 mile mark at the moment. For the last week we usually rest up and take things easy.”

And Johnny and Conor are hoping that conditions will be favourable, allowing them to complete the route comfortably.

“It’s usually drier in New York - there’s nothing worse than running in the wet,” he said.

Johnny is hoping to reach his personal best of four hours and ten minutes and Conor is hoping for a similar performance.