The photo of the Irish runner (58) passing the Brazilian Kaka in the marathon goes viral.

A Cork man who beat star Brazilian midfielder Kaka in a marathon at the weekend has spoken of his shock after a picture of them went viral.

John Casey (58), who competed in the Berlin Marathon in the “55 years and older” category, stormed past the multiple Champions League winner at mile 21 and finished the race eight minutes faster.

Mr Casey finished the race in just over 3 hours and 30 minutes and a photo of him passing Kaka has been circulating on social media for the past few days but he didn’t know who he was with at the time had passed.

“I was running with the 3:30 Pacer group and we passed them at mile 21,” he said.

“I call it the Covid handshake, he just gave me a fist bump. We exchanged a fist bump as we passed on the right and a smile.

“By that point the crowd knew that the world record had been broken at mile 21, at that point there was a big buzz in the crowd.

“Then the crowd called his name [Kaka] and I didn’t think about it anymore and just kept running. I didn’t realize the photo was taken at the end and look it’s absolutely gone viral like in the last 48 hours it’s been absolutely insane.”

Speaking of RTÉ Today with Claire Byrne Mr Casey said the fist bump he shared with the footballer typified the “inclusive” nature of runners and athletic competitions in general. He said Kaka was “really nice” and that there was “no airs and graces about him.”

“He’s a world superstar and he really had great interaction with the audience, to be fair to him,” he added.

Mr Casey admitted his own performance in beating the AC Milan legend was “well underway” and he thanked his coaches at Togher Athletic for their help in preparing.

Ahead of his 59th birthday, Mr. Casey started running 10 years ago and Berlin was his first marathon. He said the race is a “bucket list” event as his son Jack lives there.

“I think the photo touched people on several levels,” he said.

“First of all, I think the first thing people say, it’s a great reminder to have when making a bucket list to get photographed at this level. Second, there’s that kind of shared pain in the marathon, definitely on both of our faces.

“And I think the other thing is there’s a good banter about likes. You know, that little bit of rebel, I’m from Cork and there’s a little bit of rebellious courage and Irish courage in the sporting courage in the way of performance.

“The first marathon connection can also be photographed on the route by a German photographer, the 45,000 people who took part in the race are amazing.”

After the race, Kaka posted a picture with his medal on his 19 million followers Instagram account, celebrating his 3 hours 38 minutes time.


Former Brazil international Kaka. Photo credit: @Kaka

Mr Casey said the Brazilian “did the job and deserved everything he gets from it”. The photo of the Irish runner (58) passing the Brazilian Kaka in the marathon goes viral.

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