A Californian runner who pledged to run the Waterside Half Marathon after meeting a bunch of Derry runners in Barcelona, has kept his promise and will visit the city this weekend to complete the race
Robert (Bob) Tully said he made friends for life when he met members of Star Running Club in an Irish bar in Barcelona earlier this year.And, after hearing about the running phenomenon that has swept the city, he promised to visit Derry on September 3rd to be re-united with theclub.
“I was raised on Irish- American music and culture and my maternal grandfather was from Donegal,” said Bob. “But I’ve never actually visited Ireland. I’ve been running most of my adult life and recently started travelling to run and explore new places.
“In February, I flew to Barcelona to run a half marathon and check out the city. My flight from LA (where I now live) connected in Dublin and when the flight boarded, I was surrounded by a group of Irish men and women in matching red hoodies and shirts with the Star Running Club branding. I just sat back, pulled my hat down over my eyes (being bald and living in sunny California, I wear a lot of hats, usually a fedora or the like) and listened to the banter, enjoying the language that I associate with so many good times in my life.
“I think I asked one of the group as we were getting off the plane: ‘Are you running the race?’ and they confirmed that they were. But that was all the conversation we had. Fast forward to after the race. I was exploring Barcelona and ended up in an Irish bar . I’m sitting at the bar when a guy walks up. He’s close to my age and walking a little stiff-legged. So I asked “did you run in the race yesterday?’ And he said ‘Yeah…wait. You’re the fella in the hat!’
That’s how I met Danny Rodgers – one of the coaches from Star. He introduced me to the group who, when they heard I had relatives from down the road in Donegal, ‘adopted’ me for the rest of the day. In the course of our conversation, they told me about the Waterside ‘half’ in Derry in September and that was all I needed. I’m getting to run, meet up again with some great people and finally visit a part of the world that holds a place in my heart. I just hope I can understand the accent!”
Danny Rodgers said: “When Bob told us he’d fly from LA to Derry for the Waterside Half Marathon we weren’t sure he’d be able to make it. But he’s been true to his word and the club is looking forward to adopting Bob once again as he takes on the 13.1 miles around Derry this Sunday. It promises to be a fantastic day.”