Ukulele player Brendan Byrne is the force behind the Ballyroan Ukulele Club and last October he set himself the goal of running the Dublin City Marathon whilst playing and singing with his ukulele.
Now the Dublin City Marathon is 42 kms so running it is no mean feat – never mind while playing the uke! But having set himself this challenge Brendan managed to pull it off in fine style, a heroic achievement by anyone’s standard!
This is Brendan’s own account of his experience.
At 9:00 am, with my ukulele hanging around my neck by a cord, I warmed up, while jogging on the spot, at Fitzwilliam Square with Molly Malone in the key of C. Some of my fellow participants thought I was just going to play a few songs at the start and then go home. I quickly assured them that I intended to go the distance, all 42 kilometres, whilst playing the ukulele.
At 9:20 we got underway and I persuaded the naysayers that I meant business, giving them the “The Wild Colonial Boy”. I repeated “Molly Malone” as my audience was constantly changing.
By now we were coming to The Coombe and sure what more appropriate song for The Coombe than “Biddy Mulligan, the Pride of the Coombe”. Fellow participants were joining in as best they could between their laughs of incredulity.
“The Dublin Saunter” brought us up the Quays and in nearly no time at all we were into the Phoenix Park. While passing the Dublin Zoo I played the first verse of “The Zoological Gardens”. Half way up Chesterfield Avenue somewhere close to the Áras I came across a participating French couple, d’un certain age, from where else but France. So out of my repertoire I plucked “La Mer”, en francais, from start to finish, which they very much appreciated.
Out of the top of the Park and into Castleknock I came to the best audience of the day. Hundreds lined the roads and I played “Heartbeat” for them and lots of them joined in. Back into the Park and around by the Furry Glen I had to play “Take Her Up to Monto”, “They say the Duke of Gloucester, the dirty oul’ imposter, he took a mot and lost her in the Furry Glen”.
Of course I got some requests from people lining the roads. So I played whatever of those that I could. These included Pack Up Your Troubles, Its a Long Way to Tipperary, the Wild Rover and others.
At times people standing at the side of the road would say “Ah go on. Play us an ould tune. As if I hadn’t been playing at all. To which I would say: “If you were running along beside me you would have heard me playing lots and lots of tunes.” Then I would play a song like The Wild Colonial Boy or Jamaica Farewell and because I was moving and they were not, I found myself at times running backwards while finishing out the song. This surely must be a world first.
Other songs I gave an airing to along the way were All I Have To Do Is Dream, Walk Right Back, Can’t You Dance The Polka, Somewhere Over the Rainbow and where would we be without Elvis-Wooden Heart, Return to Sender, Rock-a-Hula Baby, A Fool Such As I. Not forgetting, of course, The Beatles-When I’m Sixty Four (which I will be next time round).
As I passed through Walkinstown I came to one of the many DJs that were set up on pagoda with enormous blaring loudspeakers, which were drowning me out. As I passed each of these I would gesture to the DJ to turn down the volume because I couldn’t hear myself.
The Walkinstown DJ did switch off his volume, fair play to him, and invited me up to play into his microphone, which I did, playing and singing the first verse of The Wild Colonial Boy to tremendous applause from the locals and thereby adding a couple of minutes to my overall time, but hey, who was counting anyway.
On I went and by now I was probably repeating quite a few songs but my audience was still constantly changing, so they were none the wiser. The Sloop John B came into its own in the latter part of the course and as I crossed the finishing line, in what must be a world record, if not a world first, for running the marathon whilst playing the ukulele, in 6 hours 14 minutes and 59 seconds, the following lyrics seemed to be particularly apt-“I feel so broke up I want to go home”, and “This is the worst trip I’ve ever been on”.
Brendan completed the 42 kms marathon and here’s his official time placing.
Congratulations Brendan – Uke On!