In 1980, Tyrone brothers Sean, Brian, Frank and Michael Quinn made history as the first set of four brothers in the world to run the New York marathon together.
Thirty-five years on and now in their sixties, they are returning to the Big Apple to once again take on the race.
On November 1, their training will come to the test as the brothers run to raise funds for Multiple Sclerosis Ireland.
“35 years later we may not manage to do it in the same time as before but our hope is to take part in the marathon once again and raise funds to support people with multiple sclerosis in the process,” said Frank Quinn.
The brothers were the talk of the town in 1980 when they became the darlings of the US media in the lead up to the marathon. It began, as many good stories do, as an idea thought up in the pub, but before they knew it, the idea had grown legs and those legs were running a marathon.
Michael Quinn says of the build-up to the marathon in 1980: “A few days before the race our story was one of the leads across the networks and newspapers so we had to run it then! We were four fairly unfit lads but we had youth on our side. We were all in our twenties at the time and played GAA so we weren’t too worried.”
At the time, Seán, Frank and Michael Quinn were based in New York while Brian lived on the family farm on the Limehill Road in Pomeroy, Co. Tyrone, and it was the story of Brian flying to New York to join his brothers that sparked the interest of the media.
“Once the media picked it up there was no turning back – we had to get fitter and fitter,” Michael said.
“A few days before the race our story was one of the leads across the networks – ABC, CBS, NBC. The headlines were ‘Russia sends extra troops to Afghanistan’, ‘Quinn brothers run the NYC Marathon’ and ‘Denver Broncos beat NY Giants.’ So we were behind Russia but ahead of the Giants! Sure we had to run it then…”
This wasn’t the last time that the Quinn brothers took on a 26-mile race together, however. In 2013, they rekindled their sibling partnership to run the Dublin marathon, also raising funds for MS Ireland. Once again, Brian was the one to travel to meet with his three brothers who had since relocated to Ireland’s capital. It was Frank, however, who held the attention of the media this time around being the last person to finish the marathon with a time of seven hours and 51 minutes.
Frank, who ran the Lansdowne Hotel in Dublin at the time, battled through the race despite having to receive an injection to relieve pain in his foot before they’d even started.
Never leaving a man behind, the close set of brothers run together on the basis of one of their father’s favorite quotes: “There’s not much a man can do on his own.”
They have been supporters of MS Ireland since being introduced to the charity by their sister-in-law who worked in St. Vincent's hospital in Dublin, and they hope to raise $33,700 (€30,000) running the NYC marathon this year.
Multiple Sclerosis is the most common disabling neurological disorder of young adults and affects more than 8,000 people in Ireland. MS Ireland is the national organization providing information, vital services and support to the MS community. More than two-thirds of the 8,000 people living with MS in Ireland access these resources and all those affected by the condition rely on MS Ireland to advocate on their behalf on any issues which will impact their quality of life.
If you wish to support the Quinn brothers you can make a donation at www.justgiving.com/Quinn-Brothers.