Spirit animal.

Stablemate James “the Destroyer” Doran switched to Fanta Zero in the weeks leading up to the Irish National 10 Mile Championships. And boy did that decision pay off, as the Kerryman won M40 gold in 53:15—and top team honours, to boot.

Ríocht abú!

Tanking around Phoenix Park in the Irish summer of warm and wet rain, the youngster knew full-sugar Fanta was waiting for him at the finish line after taking 10th spot overall. 

Remembering what he looked like the last time, Ally “the Chin” Smith wasn’t aghast when they met down the local for a few: 

AS: Hello again, Jim. Knock this one back, and tell me how it feels to be the king. 

JD: Ahhh, buzzin’ wit’ it. Over 40s national champ … Sooo, ahh, it has a nice ring to it.

AS: I bet it does. How did it all go down? 

JD: This course should be named “the roller coaster 10.” It makes San Francisco look flat. 

I pushed on before mile 2 on the downhill—no one went with me. All the lads in the age group were watching each other while I sat behind, watching all of them. So when I went, they never followed. I wanted to make it honest. 

AS: Fantatastic, man! And I hear you bagged a few scalps along the way to victory. 

JD: Ye a few scalps there … Colm Griffin, who beat me in Trim a couple years ago over 10 miles. He’s a former M35 national champion. A guy from Longford … Brian … Brian Sheehan; I scalped him, and I scalped a guy from North Cork … McMahon, who’s running quite well at the moment, and another Kerryman from Iveragh AC. So a really good day’s work. 

AS: No wonder they call you the Destroyer. So happy for you, Jim. What’s next, champ? 

JD: I’ve a little tickler coming up in a few weeks before The Bossman breaks my soul during the marathon build-up. 

AS: Hahaha, good stuff. I’ll catch up with you when you’re reborn as a 2:50 marathon man. 

JD: Oh, before you go … Shout out to Adam Smyth; hope the recovery is going well. We complain about race results/performances, training outcomes, etc. But simply being able to lace up the shoes can be a good day. Keep the fight up, Adam. 

AS: Nice, man. A true champion looks after his fellow Stablemates. You’re some character. 

JD: Thanks, Ally. See ye later. 

Coach Stazza was jumping about and clapping his hands like a little girl when he heard what the Destroyer had done: “Yippee … Yippee … ‘Big Jim’ is back. What a result. He’s been tipping away for a few years, but now he’s coming into his greatest era. He’s coming for every masters title going. Yippee!”