Multiple silver medalist gives back to OMTOM
In Gerald Sullivan’s 31st edition of the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon (OMTOM), the veteran plans on running a different kind of race. This year Sullivan will be setting the pace for the 1h45 bus of the Half Marathon, and he couldn’t be more thrilled to be giving back to a race that has given him so much.
“I know that I’ve had my good years of running and I can’t be going for PBs any more, so now it’s time to start helping other people to achieve their own goals, which is an amazing feeling,” says Sullivan.
His OMTOM journey started a little over 30 years ago in 1984 when he was still running competitively.
“I have always been running for results; I never used to run for fun. I was a serious runner. I went for sub-four silver medals at the OMTOM Ultra Marathon and my goal was to run 10 consecutive silvers. And I did that. I have completed 14 consecutive silvers at the Half Marathon too.”
Sullivan says his secrets to success lie in his speed-centric training methods.
“Since I was young, I’ve been good at timing myself well. I’m a natural born runner. I’ve only ever done speedwork and most of my training is speedwork which takes place on the track."
Consistency is also key. “I make sure I hit the track four to five times a week. And on a weekend I am sure to complete a 10, 15 or 21km run. The longer runs are obviously to train my body for distance and stamina. And then when I’m training for race day, I will combine the two styles; I will merge my distance and speed work training together."
Sullivan adds that cross-training has also helped keep him in tip-top shape. “If you want to be a good runner, don’t only run! You must do other sports to help other muscle groups. Gym helps keep you flexible, and the more flexible you are, the less energy you use.”
Though he admits his ‘glory days’ are over, the double silver medalist notes that it’s vital to have goals and to stick to them. Having run a combined 30 OMTOM events, Sullivan shows no signs of slowing down, not even his pace if he can help it.
“The OMTOM is a nice challenging race. Now that I’m older, I am looking to get a bronze medal. But even today, I am only just missing out on a silver by about two or three minutes. So it is important to keep goals in mind. My goal is to now reach 40 editions of the world's most beautiful marathon.”
At the end of the day, Sullivan returns to his very honest reasons for running - reasons that have kept him on his feet for forty years.
“It’s a passion of mine since I was young. My father who was also an athlete saw me running and he said I must always keep on running, and I have never stopped. I’m now in my 41st year of running. Running keeps me fit, mentally strong - it’s just nice to run…”