'I opened my arms and said ‘go ahead' – they gave him a 10 glass bottle of whiskey as a spot prize. That was the last time I let anybody go in front of me'

Running the Great Wall of China to mark his 80th birthday, taking the scenic route to represent Ireland and eyeing up another crack at the Belfast marathon next year, Francie Arthurs continues to live a life less ordinary. But, as Neil Loughran found out, the west Belfast man is lucky he is still here to tell the tale...

Francie Arthurs only took up running at the age of 48 but hasn't looked back since, representing Ireland across the world and still pounding the streets of Belfast at the age of 81. Picture by Mal McCann
IT all started with a tweet about four months ago. A picture of a small man wearing a green t-shirt, the number 502 pinned to his abdomen, eyes smiling behind thick-rimmed glasses. “This is F[...]

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