Another weekend and more success for Derry Track Club athletes in Antrim, Athlone, Raphoe and even across the Atlantic at the University of Kentucky in the United States.
Conan McCaughey made his debut in Derry Track Club colours at the Antrim International Cross Country on a testing course at Greenmount College. The Stirling University student made a steady start of the 7.5K race which had been shortened by almost 2000m on account of the treacherous underfoot conditions.
Spurred on by being overlooked for the Northern Ireland selection, the tenacious Enniskillen man was soon in the thick of the action as he chased down the opposition.
through the field he ended up 20th in a top class race won by Aweke Ayalew from Bahrain from defending champion Ugandan Thomas Ayeko with Kenya’s Timothy Cheruiyot.
That placed him third of the NI finishers and ahead of two of the province’s selection.
Earlier in the day Lily Toorish had also impressed with a fighting 10th in the girls’ U13 race, fourth NI finisher, and only two seconds off sixth place. Victory in the race went to English visitor Femke Rosbergen from Norwich with Scotland’s Kate Richardson filling the runner-up spot.
Ben Mellon showed huge improvement on his performance in the same race 12 months earlier by showing aggression and determination to take a respectable 28th spot. Again the honours went across channel to Sam Almond from Penrith in the Lake District.
Meanwhile the DTC trackies were in action at an indoor meeting in Athlone where Matt Doherty’s 1:58.88 stood out. That came just six days after a 15:56 clocking for 5K on the road.
Other encouraging early season marks were recorded by Tim Shiels (M40/ 2:05.51), Cathal McLaughlin (M45/ 2:08.83), Brandon Connolly (U18/ 2:09.91), Shaun Deery (2:12.24), Robert Bigger (M55/ 2:16.82 and Conor McIlveen (T37/ 2:22.50)
More success followed on Sunday with Marty Cox just losing out on the sprint to track specialist Mark Hoy at the second Lifford-Strabane 5K Series race in Raphoe.
Cox showed he is benefitting from the new training regime with a 15:54 timing. Behind him the other DTC athletes were strengthening their positions in the overall standings – Cathal McLaughlin (M45/17:11), Kevin Connolly (M40/18:38), Chris Millar (18:42), Robert Bigger (M55/18:48), Amy McDaid (20:12), Conor McIlveen (T37/21:28) and Deirdre Haigney (F40/21:34).
That ensured that Marty Cox moved to the top of the men’s overall standings and Amy McDaid is the leading lady. In addition Cathal McLaughlin leads the M45s and Robert Bigger the M55s (subject to confirmation).
Across the Atlantic JP Williamson also showed that he had lost none of his fitness over the festive season by qualifying for the NAIA Indoor Championships with a fine 8:33.49 timing for 3000m in Kentucky.