PROFILE--Tommy Hughes holds the age-59 world record in the marathon, 2:27:59

Frankfurt Marathon, 2019. Photo by Keith McClure
(Apr. 2012) Ireland's Tommy Hughes has been on a record-setting spree of late. Last October, at 59, he ran 2:27:52 in the Frankfurt Marathon to set a single-age record. After turning 60 in early January, he set an over-60 record for 8K, clocking a 25:57. That's basically 5:12 pace for 5 miles at age 60. And Hughes thinks he can go faster. In fact, he was planning for a big effort in the London Marathon in mid-April ... but you know what happened to that and all the other springtime races. Hughes was an elite marathoner in his youth, but then took 16 years away from the sport--years 32 to 48--while he focused on his electrician business and trying to figure out a health problem--parathyroidism. Now he's making up for lost time, and dragging his 34-year old son, Eoin, along with him. Eoin ran 2:31:30 at Frankfurt last, giving father and son the F/S combined marathon record of 4:59:22.

Career/profession: I am a self employed electrician.

When and why did you start running? I started running in 1981 to loose some weight to play for my local Gaelic football team and soon realized I was better at the running.

Best races? I won the Marrakech Marathon in 1988 in 2.15.48 and was dubbed "The Marrakech Express." I also won the Dublin Marathon in 1991 in 2.14.46. The next year, I returned to Marrakech, and ran my PB 2.13.59, one second inside the qualifying time for the Barcelona Olympics. That got me selected to run the Olympic Marathon for Ireland. I finished 72nd in 2:32:55.

How much did you train then? Now? I ran about 100 mile a week. I tried to get it up to 140, but kept getting frequent injuries. I also had long gaps away from the sport due to work.

Now I run about 120 miles a week in build up to a marathon with a few sit-ups and press-ups and very little stretching.

Recent races? I have run 16.13 for 5km, 32.53 for 10km, 54.46 for 10 mile, 71.57 for half marathon and 2.27.52 for marathon, all world records for a 59 year old. Recently I ran 25.57 for 5 mile which was an over 60 8km world record.

I am running faster now because of getting a medical problem sorted (parathyroidism) so I am grateful for this. I drive myself on to do my best.

Any diet and/or weight changes? My weight has been much the same when I am training and racing. I do put weight on when I am working away from home. I eat a very balanced diet and take beetroot juice. I don’t take any supplements.

Tommy and Eoin Hughes
Injuries or health issues? The major health issue was the parathyroidism as it affected my mood, made me tired very quickly and other issues. It was detected when I gave a blood sample, and it showed up in the results.

Philosophy of running and life? Strive to do your best and to always enjoy your running. It's great to get out to the races, and meet lots of people of similar interests.

Running keeps me grounded and gives me a sense of well-being. It has saved my life over the years, mostly from alcohol. Running teaches you that no matter how far down you become, there is always a way out.