The Marathon Man
When he was 39, Patrick Clarke decided to run the sub 4-minute mile. There was nothing particular that led up to the decision. He was just watching the 1500m Olympic event on TV and thought, ‘I should be able to do that.’ Everything else had worked out for him up to that point. After slipping into the US as an illegal immigrant, the Dubliner worked as a limo driver in Boston for the Sultan of Brunei before fashioning a successful career in film, as an actor, director, writer and producer. Going after the still-unbreakable record was just one other thing.
“Naiveté is an integral part of achieving something in life,” says Clarke. “You are just going to have to go out and give it a try.” He ended up running a 4:45. Still a great result, and the validation he got from it reaffirmed a thesis he’d developed. “A life in film taught me that one minute you’re doing okay, and the next you’re driving a cab,” he says. “But through all of that, a spirit of perseverance is what got me through. You never lose that. In 10 or 20 years, I still want to be out there swinging.” This past year, Patrick ran his first marathon on his 50th birthday.
“At each new age bracket you recalibrate what you are hoping to pack into the next decade,” he says. But the message remains: stay true to yourself. And give yourself some credit. At least Clarke does. “You need to paint your life a little rosier than it is. I don’t want to give anyone the impression that life is a dream,” he says. “The impression I’d like to give is that it is always a struggle. At least when you are older you care less about what people think.”