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Relatively Speaking: Partners David and Catherine

By Kerry McKittrick

Husband and wife David and Catherine Mullan had not run a step three years ago, now they have eight marathons completed between them. They will be taking part in the Energia 24-Hour Race at Mary Peters Track on Friday, July 17. They live in Newtownabbey and have two children, Rian (14) and Matthew (10).

Name: David Mullan


Occupation: Civil servant

Relationship to Catherine: Husband

"Catherine and I met a long time ago - it was actually my 16th birthday.

It was an all-night charity bowling event for school.

We got married in 1998 - it wasn't really the thing to do back then because we were quite young, but we had already been together for so long no one worried about it.

We have done things differently because we have been married for so long and our kids are that much older.

Some of our friends are only getting married and having children now.

We were young parents, so I would imagine at some point we'll be young grandparents, too.

I had done a bit of running previously, but nothing as ambitious as a marathon.

I always had an urge to run a marathon, but I thought there was a kind of snobbery among runners which it turns out is a complete myth.

Then I saw an advert in the paper in 2012 for an initiative run by the council called Challenge 26.2.

It was for people who wanted to take part in the marathon who hadn't run before or who wanted to improve their times.

I thought it would be perfect for me.

There were about 40 of us in the group - we had running gear and shoes provided for us and coaching from a company called Run With Us. Once we had started we had absolutely no excuse not to achieve our running goal. At that point it was just me running.

I went on to run a couple of marathons in 2013 - Belfast and Dublin.

It got to a stage where all I talked about was running.

I think Catherine was faced with a choice to either join me or leave me.

We did start to train together and went on to participate in the Paris Marathon together.

I think that will be the last marathon we actually run together though as we bickered the whole way round.

We both have different running styles and pace.

I'm much faster off the blocks, but Catherine has a much steadier stride.

We still train together though - on Sunday we went for a 10-mile run along the coast to wave the Tall Ships goodbye.

It's time that we're able to spend together, have a chat and get some fresh air."

Name: Catherine Mullan


Occupation: Chartered accountant

Relationship to David: Wife

I've now run marathons in Belfast, Dublin, Paris, Derry and Lisbon in Portugal, and we're now about to do the 24-hour race.

I 've run marathons in Paris, Dublin and London, the latter of which is where I achieved my personal best. Entry to the London Marathon is very competitive, although I was lucky enough to get in at my first attempt.

I started running a few months after David, but initially I didn't want to to take part in marathons. However, a friend of mine had broken her leg a year before and wanted to get her fitness back. We decided to do the Couch To 5K challenge by following the app on our phones and once we had achieved that we just kept going.

I did the Belfast Half Marathon and then went to watch David run the Dublin Marathon. It was then I decided to join David for the Paris Marathon. I thought I could do it if I had managed a half marathon. It wasn't a big success - he runs at a faster pace than me so I found it hard to keep up with him. Despite that, it was still a good experience.

We might not run marathons together any more, but we still run together. We even get the boys involved so we all take part in park runs on Saturdays.

All of us spend more time outdoors now. Before we would have taken part in indoor activities such as going to the cinema or bowling.

Now we run or go for walks, so our lifestyle is definitely a lot healthier.

The boys are getting into running now, too - before the eldest would have played a bit of football, but that was it.

Both David and I are part of a four-person team in the 24-hour relay.

We'll probably be doing three sets of two hours each, and are hoping to run about 10 miles in each shift. It will be good craic and we're looking forward to it.

The 24-hour challenge...

  • The Energia 24-Hour Race will begin at 6.45pm on Friday, July 17
  • 144 competitors will take part in a number of different races during the event. These include a 24-hour race, a 12-hour race, a relay and a 100km race
  • The winners of the 24 and 12-hour races will have completed the most laps during those periods. The winner of the 100km race will have completed 250 laps of the track in the quickest time
  • Runners will change direction on the track every four hours and refreshments including pasta and porridge will be available throughout the event for runners

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