At 57 years of age, high school teacher and former Penrith Cricket Club head coach Michael Wholohan has run in 83 marathons all over the world. Next month, he’ll be taking on the Boston Marathon for a cause close to his heart.
Since he stopped playing cricket and picked up running, completing the Boston Marathon has been a major goal for Wholohan. But, it wasn’t until he heard about the tragic diagnosis received by a close friend that an idea became a reality.
“I’ve had my sights set on Boston for a while,” Wholohan told the Weekender.
“I injured myself last year, and I just started thinking about how my knee was no good, and I was really struggling. Then, my real good mate Peter McLay was diagnosed with brain cancer on New Year’s Eve 2021.
“He was operated on, and he sort of ebbed and flowed. I could see that he was really starting to struggle, and I thought, if he can get through what he’s going through, surely I can get through the Boston Marathon.”
McLay, a member of the NSW Police Force for 35 years and former Australian Under 19 cricketer, sadly passed on January 1 this year, just a year and one day after his diagnosis.
Wholohan quickly became determined to run the marathon in support of the Mark Hughes Foundation, and has been busy preparing ever since.
“I’ve been running in pain for several months. I was living in the pool and living in the gym, and I’ve only just started to come good with the long runs,” he said.
“I’ve really watched my weight the last couple of months, and my training is going really well now – I think I’m the lightest I’ve been since I was at school, which was nearly 40 years ago. I’m back into the groove of running four or five times a week, so I’m hoping to get to the finish line on the 17th of April.”
With completing the Boston Marathon a lifetime goal for Wholohan, it’s no surprise that he can’t wait to cross the finish line.
“I guess it’s excitement more than anything,” he said.
“It’s just such an iconic event, and I’ve always followed its progress. It’s one of those bucket list events that every person who’s keen on running has always had in the back of their mind.”
But, he says his ultimate goal is raising funds and awareness for the Foundation, both at the marathon, and at home.
“It’s really about just, over the next few months, having that Mark Hughes shirt on every time I leave the house and go for a run to raise awareness in the broader community about how much needs to be done in relation to brain cancer,” he said.
To donate, visit bit.ly/3lBtmbI.
Cassidy Pearce is a news and entertainment journalist with The Western Weekender. A graduate of the University of Technology Sydney, she has previously worked with Good Morning Macarthur and joined the Weekender in 2022.