Derry City Track Club athletes made their mark on their first visit to the Rathfarnham 5K Road Race in Dublin (writes Darragh Crossan). Almost 1100 faced the starter early last Sunday morning with the DCTC green and black vests prominent from the start.

Happy DCTC athletes after the Rathfarnham 5K
Happy DCTC athletes after the Rathfarnham 5K

Matt Doherty and Darragh Crossan both settled into the main chasing pack as Irish international John Travers broke away from the gun. Doherty went through the £3K mark in a super fast 9:12 before coming home in 15:47.

That was not only a personal best by over half a minute but good enough to lift the prize for second Junior (U20) to finish. The time also put the 18-year-old at the top of the Northern Ireland rankings for the year in his age group and he is likely to stay there with the road season almost complete.

Club captain Darragh Crossan made even more significant inroads with a 16:13 timing, chopping almost a minute off his previous best. That improved on a mark he had set three years previously and had stood despite a number of close calls in the interim.

Matt and Darragh in training.
Matt and Darragh in training.

Both Doherty and Crossan will now set their focus on the cross country with the Ulster Novice being top of their agenda. They will form the backbone of the club’s assault on team medals.

Gareth McGee showed glimpses of his old magic with a 17:55 timing which was good enough to leave him sixth in the M45 category. Another man who is key to DCTC’s Ulster Novice ambitions, Shaun Deery, also recorded a new personal best of 18:22 and showed signs that there is a lot more to come.

Hannah McGowan continues to improve.
Hannah McGowan continues to improve.

Derry City’s only female athlete on the day, Hannah Mc Gowan, was also in top form with a 19:27 clocking that left her well placed in the women’s field. The DCU student has improved consistently over the summer and should feature prominently during the upcoming cross country season.

Newly-crowned British Paralympic 800m champion Conor Mc Illveen showed the extra distance caused him no problem with a highly respectable 19:34 time while club coach Malcolm Mc Causland rounded off a good day for the Derry club with a third place finish in the M60 category in a time of 20:25.

Derry City Track Club is back in action this weekend when it fields teams in three races of the four races at the Northern Ireland Road Relays at Victoria Park in Belfast. The Masters’ Men team carries best hope of medals with Tim Shiels making a welcome return from injury to boost the squad that contests the 4 x 3300m event.

Adrian Boyle takes time out from moving home to run the opening leg before handing over to Shiels, current British Indoors 800m champion, for the second stint. Gary McGee is named for the third leg after an impressive performance in Dublin last weekend.

European Indoors 1500m silver medallist Cathal McLaughlin will run the key final leg. Although NI champions on the track in 2014, a team medal here would be a first for Derry City Track Club in only its second full year of competition.

Matt Doherty and Darragh Crossan head the senior men’s team while Hannah McGowan and Amy McDaid join debutant Helen Stockdale in the women’s 3 x 3300m race.



21 September 2015 – Victory in yesterday’s Belfast City Half Marathon literally came down to the wire with the decision finally being given to pre-race favourite Kenya’s Gideon Kimosop over compatriot Daniel Tanui after the pair crossed the line shoulder to shoulder.

Gideon Swoops for Belfast Victory

The pair shared the same time of one hour, four minutes and 24 seconds after a ding-dong battle over the final miles.

The only challenge to the men from the Rift Valley came from Newry-based physiotherapist Paddy Hamilton but he too had to surrender to the blistering pace set by Kimosop and Tanui.

“The two Kenyan guys were really good. I know I’d an average enough run, but I’m happy enough,” said Hamilton who recorded 69:09 for the 13.1 mile distance.

A sell out entry of 3,500 runners took to the streets of Belfast for the event with Kenyans Mercy Jemutai and Rosina Gibionia lifting the top prizes in the women’s race.

In the end Jemutai had eked out a 21 second advantage to come home clear of Gibionia in a more than credible 1:13:36. Letterkenny’s London Olympics marathon representative Catriona Jennings took third in 1:18:58.

There were criticisms of the race on social media yesterday evening with full results still not being available over 8 hours after the race was completed.

There was success for another northern woman when Acorns AC stalwart Karen Alexander won the Dublin Half Marathon in 1:22:24. A shadow was cast over the race with the death of a young man close to the finish.


It was honours even at the end of the inaugural Derry City Track Club Invitational Road Relay held on the Waterside Greenway with each of the competing clubs claiming a victory in the three races.

Foyle Valley turned out a strong quartet in the Senior Men’s 4 x 2 Mile with Adrian McGowan (split time: 10:31) running an impressive first leg to bring the purple vests home in third place as Darragh Crossan (10:11) cut out the early pace for the host club.

Marty Gallagher (10:33) put Foyle Valley into a 20 seconds lead on the second leg with Derry City now second through Shaun Deery (11:13) and Acorns taking closer order thanks to a sound run from Francis McDaid (10:50).

Dean Toland made a premature turn on the third leg missing out at least 400m of running to leave Foyle Valley well clear of Derry City at the last changeover despite a valiant effort from Matt Doherty (10:06) who turned in the fastest split of the evening.

The last leg was a mere formality for Stephen Connor (10:25) as he cruised to comfortable win for Foyle Valley. Sixteen-year-old Brandon Connolly (11:59) showed a cool head as he held off Acorns, anchored by Cathaoir Purvis (11:27), by almost a minute to take the runner-up spot.

The Masters’ relay was contested over the same distance with Acorns top gun Darrell McKee (10:17) putting the Magherafelt outfit into an early lead. Adrian Boyle (10:53) brought Derry City home in second and Foyle Valley in third.

Acorns still led through Martin Loughran (11:06) at the halfway point althought he gap was down to just 11 seconds over Derry City after Tim Shiels (10:41) showed a fine turn of speed.

Acorns clung on to a mere four second advantage at the start of the final leg despite Diarmuid O’Kane (11:54) going slightly off course. Behind him Robert Bigger (11:47) looked to have put Derry City in a winning position with the club’s best runner Cathal McLaughlin to come.

However, there’s many a slip between cup and lip. And never was this truer when the European silver medallist Cathal McLaughlin took what seemed an asthma attack shortly after setting out. After stopping briefly McLaughlin (13:29) bravely made it to the finish in a time more than three minutes slower than what he was expected to produce.

Meantime Acorns’ final runner Pat Grugan (11:56) had been able to make his way home and claim a solid victory for the County Derry men. Tom Doherty (13:04) brought Foyle Valley home to the bronze medal position.

Amy McDaid Paddy's Day 5K The women’s relay contested over three legs of two miles was another tight affair. Hannah McGowan (12:22) ran the fastest split of the night on the opening leg to give Derry City a lead they were never to lose.

Rachel Doherty (14:00) ate into the Derry City advantage on the second leg despite Lily Toorish (14:22) making a valuable contribution.

Acorns were now well out of the contest as Amy McDaid set out with a healthy lead. Foyle Valley’s Martina McMullen (11:38) did her best but the green vests still had a 44 seconds advantage when Amy broke the tape to claim the first win by a Derry City Track Club ladies team at any level.
.Conor McIlveen Bangor 21 Apr 2015 18-48Meanwhile Conor McIlveen wound up his best ever season with a gold and silver medal at the British Paralympic Championships in Nottingham. McIlveen claimed a comfortable victory in the 800m where he waited until the final homestraight before going up through the gears to break the tape first in 2:18.

Earlier the Derry City Track Club athlete had seen his blocks slip at the start of the 200m that meant he had to settle for second spot. The All-State employed will now start his winter training with the target of qualifying for next year’s Paralympics in Rio.




Project Africa Athletics runners look set to dominate this Sunday’s 3rd Asics Belfast City Half Marathon which also incorporates the NI Championships (Start 9am Ormeau Park). Now the largest half marathon in the North, the third edition has attracted the maximum 3,500 participants who face a new faster course that takes in most quarters of Belfast.

Gideon Kimosop

Gideon Kimosop returns to Omagh after spending a few months back home in Kenya with his family and attending to matters on his farm. The 27-year-old was here in the early part of the year during which time he claimed numerous road race victories, including the Omagh Half Marathon, as well as runner-up spot in the Belfast Marathon.

The man from the Rift Valley charmed everyone who met him during his previous sojourn in Tyrone with Project Africa coach Ciaran Collins. He will have a huge support on Sunday in a field that has failed to attract most of the leading local distance exponents. Paddy Hamilton and Benny Teer look to be the pick of the bunch.

There are two Project athletes in the women’s race, Jemutai Tanui and Rosina Kiboino. Tanui, at 21, is the younger of the pair and has some classy times which date back to 2012 when she ran 2:31:30 for the marathon and 71:19 for the half marathon.

Her most recent marathon time from July was 2:45:41 which makes her the favourite for Sunday’s race. Fellow Kenyan Kiboino (32) had a similar marathon time when she finished second in Sofia last autumn. Gladys Ganiel O’Neill should be the first local woman to finish.



Cushioned trainers have dominated the running shoe market for probably at least the last 30 years. These shoes come with a raised heel and, if we believe the makers, include some system or another to prevent over pronation. The makers also consistently claim that these shock-absorbing features minimize the impact of foot strike on the body and thus prevent lower leg injuries. Generally, this type of trainers is significantly higher at the heel than at the point of the toe.

Under Starters Order at Carrickmore 3 Jun 2015 18-42 3 Jun 2015 18-42
Runners on the start line but are they wearing the right shoes?

However with the passing of the years, various studies have found that a high percentage of runners continue to get injured even in the most cushioned of trainers. It has been estimated that you between 30% and 75% of recreational runners tend to be injured once every year (van Mechelen and Van Gent et al), with the knee area (42%) being the most susceptible. Surprisingly, it is becoming increasingly evident that these trainers, rather than prevented injuries, may cause a large portion of them.

Nevertheless, runners are still being taken in by the shoe companies who continue to insist that extra cushioning or anti-pronation will mean fewer injuries. Because of this, most runners use traditional trainers in the belief that the extra cushioning can help them avoid injury by reducing the force of impact on the legs. Thus, brainwashed by the slogan of “extra cushioning, protection and fewer injuries”, runners continue to use extremely high-soled and high-priced shoes.

However, runners continue to get injured in high numbers giving lie to the mantra “extra cushioning, less injuries”.   Although much repeated, few runners realise that there is little, or possibly no, scientific evidence to back up this claim. In fact, recent research points to the opposite. In particular there have been two really interesting studies related to running and training shoes that have come to conclusions that blow apart the traditional “more is better” marketing ploy.

In one of these (Is your prescription of distance running shoes evidence based – Richards et al 2008), the investigators reviewed many databases of scientific research with a view to proving that greater shock absorption and/or anti pronation trainers would contribute to less injuries. However, they could find a single research study that demonstrated traditional trainers were useful in either preventing or even diminishing the occurrence of injuries in runners. In fact there was a suggestion that these trainers actually caused injuries.

The researchers concluded: “Biomechanical and epidemiological studies have raised significant questions about the capacity of running shoes incorporating either cushioning, heel elevation or sub-talarcontrol systems to prevent injury and have identified their potential to cause harm.”

A separate study by the University of Virginia looked at the incidence of injury in using minimalist shoes or indeed even barefoot. The research involved a survey of 500 runners who were running in shoes with reduced shock absorption or barefoot. The results were interesting in that they found 64% of the runners did not suffer any new injuries in the minimalist footwear or without any shoes whatsoever. In addition, 69% of the participants recovered from their previous injuries on going minimal.

Obviously if you have been using traditional trainers for some years, a change to minimalist shoes cannot be made overnight. A visit to a podiatrist may also be advisable before any dramatic change in case there may be a more serious underlying reason why you are getting injured more frequently than you would like. But it is worth thinking twice before shelling out well over £100 on a cushioned trainer when a more basic shoe at less than half the price might meet your needs. And it might keep you away from the dreaded physiotherapist’s table!


Derry City Track Club’s Jason Smyth is the world’s fastest Paralympic athlete and that is official. The two-time double Paralympic gold medalist has confirmed his status after a lightening fast run in Rio this week.

Jason NI Seniors
Jason Smyth

Smyth, who suffers from Stargardt’s Disease which means he only has 10% vision, won a 100m race involving sprinters from all disability classes at an event marking the one-year milestone until next year’s Paralympic Games.

The Eglinton man triumphed in 10.73 seconds, ahead of the American Richard Browne and Brazil’s Petrucio Ferreira. The race at Rio’s Rodrigo de Freitas lake was part of a two-day festival celebrating the games.

Smyth, who holds the 100m record of 10.46 seconds in the T13 class for visually impaired athletes, said the race set him up nicely for next year.

“It was fantastic,” said Smyth. “I am very pleased with the result and even more so because so many people came to watch. The event was very well organized and I’m sure that Rio is on the right track for next year.”

Smyth may be going into a new class next year after being re-categorized to T12 ahead of the 2014 IPC European Championships in Swansea where won both 100 and 200m gold medals.

That reclassification reflected a deterioration of his vision but as one of the biggest stars in the world of Paralympic sport he is looking forward to returning for the games in twelve months time.

“It’s so exciting to be only one year away, we’re getting close. It’s going to be an incredible Games here in Rio,” he said. “I’ve only been here two days and I love the city already. The weather, for winter, is incredible.

“I’ve never been anywhere that is so naturally beautiful and the people have been very friendly, so I think Brazil is going to do a very good job of hosting the Games.”

Smyth has been based in London for the past two years where he is coached by former British international Clarence Callender at the Lea Valley facility. The race is Rio was only his second competitive outing of the year as he prepares for the World IPC Championships in Doha next month.

Conor McIlveen breaks the tape to take gold in Nottingham
Conor McIlveen breaks the tape to take gold in Nottingham

Derry City Track Club may have two competitors in action at the championships with Conor McIlveen awaiting confirmation of his selection for Ireland in the T37 400m.

McIlveen took two gold medals at the World Cerebral Palsy Games in Nottingham last month and contests the British championships in ten days time.

Meantime arrangements are well advanced for the challenge road relay with Acorns AC on the Foyle Greenway next week DCTC will be taking on their Magherafelt rivals in Senior Men, Masters Men and Senior Women relays.


Usain Bolt may have been in headlines in the past fortnight but he is not the only sprint superstar aiming to defend his 100m and 200m titles from the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games in Rio next year. Derry City Track Club’s Jason Smyth, the fastest Paralympic ath
lete on the planet, will also be out to etch his name into history at the first edition of the Games to be held in South America.

Jason Smyth

“Comparisons have been made between me and Bolt,” admitted Smyth, whose world record of 10.46 seconds in the visually impaired T13 class is the fastest time ever posted by a para-athlete, across all classifications. “For me it’s a privilege to be compared to such an incredible athlete both on and off the track, it’s an honour. But Bolt’s got the relay titles too – I need to put together an Irish relay team.”

Relays aside, Smyth confirmed his aim is to come back from Brazil next year with another two gold medals around his neck, saying: “It’s definitely my target, so let’s hope good things happen here in Rio.”

The Eglinton man is currently in Rio where he is to take part in the one year to the Paralympic Games celebrations this weekend. These include a 100m challenge that aims to define the fastest para-athlete on the planet across all classes. This will take place on the second day of a Paralympic Festival on Monday, September 7.

Among Smyth’s rivals will be Australian Evan O’Hanlon, another athlete who will be aiming to defend his 100m and 200m titles from Beijing and London in Rio. O’Hanlon’s world record in the T38 cerebral palsy class of 10.79 seconds is marginally slower than Smyth’s, but Smyth dismissed any talk of being the favourite, instead focusing on what the event means for the Paralympic Movement.

“It’s a great idea and the moment I heard about it I thought, ‘this is a unique opportunity’,” said Smyth. “I’ve been competing in Paralympic sports for 10 years and not once have I had the chance to race against people with different disabilities. It’s all about getting people from all different backgrounds together in a celebration of what Paralympic sports is about.”

Two Derry Track athletes made a quiet start to the autumn season. Amy McDaid had her first competition in 15 months went she took part in the Acorns 5K in Magherafelt. On a tough and hilly course, the Creggan woman was pleased with her 21:09 timing and appreciative of the pacing afforded to her by clubmate Darragh Crossan.

Malcolm McCausland made the crossing to Rathlin Island where local club Foyle Valley were out in force. Again on a testing course, McCausland finished tenth in the 5K race in 21:36.