Martin Fagan won the Boston Half Marathon Sunday when he beat Kenyan Philemon Terer to finish the course in a time of 1:02.21.
Fagan was able to hold off Terer by kicking at the end to claim a fine win in what has been a tough year for the Mullingar man.
When IrishCentral caught up with Fagan a few weeks back, the 25-year-old decided not to compete in the New York marathon as the mileage and runs he needed to carry out to prepare properly were causing him Achilles problems, so he reluctantly decided to pull out.
Fagan's decision to run the Boston Half Marathon was almost a race-time decision, but one that has paid off and will rejuvenate him for the rest of the year.
“I had a couple of good runs and they were pain free. For the last six months I have been in pain a lot. But I had a couple of back to back runs where I didn’t feel any pain and for me that was very exciting," he said.
“I wanted to take advantage of that and I was coming to New England to do sea level training anyway. One of my first professional races was the Boston half and it came into my mind 'maybe I will run it and take advantage to feeling good.' I got on to BAA and fortunately enough they let me race it."
Fagan finished third in the race two years ago, and it was his knowledge of the course that stood to him Sunday.
"I have raced that Kenyan before and I have raced the course before and I know how tough it is. We went out pretty hard and he dropped me half way on the hill, but there is a u-turn on the course and it feels like you are going uphill for the first half, but in actual fact it is just as hard on the second half off it.
"As soon as I saw him tiring on the first hill coming back I knew I had him. I caught up with him and tried to break away but he got me again. At that point we both got a little tactical and waited for the last 200 meters and I got away from him.”
Will Fagan re-evaluate competing in the New York Marathon after this win?
“Now that I am not training for the marathon, I was bringing down my mileage and that is when my body started to feel better, and I think my body responded.
"I think it is just a sign that the marathon is not for me this season. I am just going to start racing and getting ready for the European Cross [Country Championships, which take place in Dublin in December). I am going to race a ten mile in two weeks called the Great South Run in England."
This victory might finally turn the page on an injury-blighted spell for the Providence College alum.
"I always knew the fitness was there. I think that the extended period of training didn’t do me that good. I love racing and I am excited to race and prove my fitness instead of training. I have forgotten about my injury problems of the past and now I just want to race and prove my fitness.
"It's almost a relief that I am not doing the marathon. It took me a long time to finally let go of that thought of running it because I had been planning it for a long time. Now it is a relief and I can get on the season.”
Fagan paid tribute to the Boston race fans who got behind him during the race.
"It was awesome. Boston is one of those races where you only have numbers on your bib, most races have your name and number on the bib, but when I got to the u-turn I started running past the joggers and the walkers and I heard my name being shouted out, which was a bit of a surprise. It got me going and helped when I started pulling him back.
“I had a lot of friends from Providence there and this feels like my second home, New England, after going to school in Providence for five years.”
Fagan will spend the next two weeks training at sea level in Boston after altitude training at Flagstaff in Arizona and then it is the Great South Run in England.
He also plans to take in the Irish National Cross Country Championships in his native Mullingar ahead of the European Cross Champonship in Dublin, and will enter the end of the season surging in confidence after a hugely impressive win in beantown.