Four gold and two silver medals was the haul for Derry Track Club athletes from the National Masters’ Indoor Championships in Athlone as Cathal McLaughlin and Robert Bigger added Irish titles to British crowns picked up the previous weekend.
In fact it was Bigger who kicked off the medal grab with a smooth victory in the M55 800m. Using his now familiar tactics, the part-time solicitor waited until the last lap before kicking away for one of his most comfortable wins on the national stage in 2:22.11.
Tim Shiels followed that up with a win in the M40 400m in 54.67 after arriving on a wing and a prayer. The Omagh preacher had been detained by his pastoral duties and had to make a hectic journey to the venue at breakneck speed, only arriving minutes before his event.
His race was equally eventful with Shiels leading through 200m but having to dive frantically over the final 20 metres to break the electronic beam before the fast-finishing runner-up.
Malcolm McCausland’s win in the 400m in the M60 age group was less exciting as the DTC athlete cruised to a seven second win in 70.49 seconds.
Cathal McLaughlin added a fourth gold medal as the Terminator ruthlessly mowed down a strong M45 1500m field over the final circuit. His 4:25.99 clocking gave him a comfortable buffer over the opposition at the finish line.
Robert Bigger and Malcolm McCausland completed the DTC medal raid with runner-up spots in the M55 and M60 1500m races respectively.
A word of praise also for the performances of Adrian Boyle who impressed in the M35 800m (2:05.43) and 1500m (4:34.08), finishing just outside the medals in both races.
Thanks to Gary McGee who was an excellent coach and manager to the five DTC athletes during a long but rewarding afternoon.
Three athletes – five medals. That was the basic statistics for Derry Track Club from the British Masters’ Indoor Championships at Lee Valley in north London.
Club chairman Cathal McLaughlin led by example as he cruised to a middle-distance double in the M45 age group. Cathal waited until the last lap before exerting his authority in the last lap of the 1500m on Saturday afternoon. An effortless season’s best of 4:20.19 showed that he is getting in top shape ahead of the Europeans in Ancona at the start of April.
Cathal returned to the track on Sunday to notch up his second win – this time in the 800m with a 2:07. 87 clocking that saw him finish almost three seconds in front of the runner-up.
Derry Track Club coach Malcolm McCausland has been selected by leading running brand BROOKS as one of just 22 in the UK to join its Brooks Daily Inspire Programme.
Cathal McLaughlin made the nomination and was quoted in Athletics Weekly when the 22 were made public: “Malcolm inspires us to be “more than a club” and to be the best people we can be.”
“I’m very humbled by this,” said McCausland. “This reflects the success of Derry Track Club athletes in the space of just over two years since the formation of the club.
“I have been coaching for over 30 years but this is the best group of people I have ever worked with in that time. it is easy to inspire athletes who are not only committed but also hungry for success.
“I have to thank Cathal for the nomination recognise the support I receive from Gary (McGee) and all the officials of this great club.”
As a Run Happy Ambassador, McCausland will be receiving a full kit package as well as technical tee-shirts, complete with DTC badge, for all his squad.
Conán McCaughey was the top Derry Track Club performer of another busy weekend although not is the familiar green and black vest on this occasion.
Running for the Stirling-based Central AC in the Scottish Cross Country championships, the Enniskillen man put in his best ever performance with a magnificent 14th place.
That helped Central defend their Scottish title with Andrew Butchart making it a double by winning the individual race.
Three DTC athletes were in action in London where they were representing Northern Ireland in a Master’s Indoor Inter-Area match at the Lee Valley Centre.
Cathal McLaughlin’s second place in the M35-49 race with a 4:20.80 timing was was the best performance of the day. It was McLaughlin’s fastest time of the season for the distance and augurs well for his assault on a first British indoor title on March 12.
Reigning British Indoor M35 champion Tim Shiels opened the afternoon in sparkling style with a third place spot in the 400m in 54.72 seconds. However, inexplicably he managed only a 2:23 timing in the 800m but regained his confidence with a 24 seconds split for 200m in the medley relay at the end of the programme.
Robert Bigger was as consistent as ever with 2:18.35/4:46.27 marks for 800m/1500m.
At home Chris Millar started his defence of the overall title at the Valley Trail 5K Series at Ness Woods. Millar has impressed in training recently and it was no surprise when he romped home by over a minute on a testing course.
Most of DTC’s athletes took advantage of a free weekend for a group session at Omagh. Everyone took advantage of the fine weather to get in a track session in preparation for the upcoming season.