21 January 2017

Paul Barbour bounced back from a troublesome achilles injury with a convincing victory in the third fixture of the Sperrin Harriers Winter League at An Créagan Centre in Tyrone. 

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner – Paul Barbour out on his own at An Créagan.

Almost 200 runners turned out  for the race in  frosty conditions. Paul Barbour was tracked all the way around the course by Vincent McAlister  and Eoin Hughes but managed to hold off both chasers to win in a time of 27:03.

Shane McGowan (centre) at the Celtic Cross Country in Cardiff with Zak Hanna and Conal McCambridge.

Shane McGowan became the latest DTC athlete to receive international recognition when he was included in the Ulster U23 team at the Celtic International in Cardiff.

NI & Ulster teams found the going tough at the meeting  that was held in conjunction with the British Cross Country Challenge fixture in Cardiff.

Newcastle’s Zak Hanna continued a rich vein of form that included a recent victory in the Race Over The Glens by leading the province’s U23 squad home in ninth place. North Belfast Harrier Conal McCambridge was close behind in 11th while Derry Track Club’s Shane McGowan was  back in 13th.

Madison Bowyer (187), Enya Haigney and Niamh Carr.

North Down’s Katie Moore was first of the northern representatives in the women’s U23 race taking 10th. Zoe Carruthers (13th) and Edel Monaghan (14th) completed the trio of finishers. The U20 girls race saw Laura Gardiner (16th, Rioghnach Catney (17th), Madison Bowyer (18th) and Enya Haigney (19th) all finish in the top 20. North

Down’s Craig McMeechan impressed in the U20 men’s race with a fine seventh place finish. Eoin McCann (13th) and Donal Farren (18th) completed the Red Hand scorers. The U17 boys probably put in the best NI & Ulster team display of the day with Monaghan Phoenix’s Conor Maguire taking the individual bronze medal.

Miceal McCaul (10th), Antony McCambridge (16th) and Alex Boyd (20th) packed well behind Maguire. Murphy Miller (10th), Rebecca Wallace (14th), Katie Agnew (16th) and Niamh Carr (19th) gave a solid account of themselves in the U17 girls’ race won by Ireland’s Sarah Healy.

Cathal McLaughlin

Elsewhere DTC athletes made a return to the Limavady parkrun within the space of two weeks and Blackburn Park proved again a happy hunting ground for Cathal McLaughlin.

Vorsprung Durch Technik lapped the compact circuit like a metronome to score his second win in as many visits.  His time of 18:02 gave him an age-graded score of 81.15% but that was surpassed by Robert Bigger’s 81.54% from a 19:30 timing.

Marina Murphy was the first lady.

Sean McIntyre ran well for third overall in 19:15 with Marina Murphy first woman home in 19:28.  Conor (Big Dog) McIlveen was happy with his 20:05 to hold off the challenge of Ben Mellon by a mere second.

David Mellon (21:05) and Elaine Connor had their own personal battle while Tom McLaughlin (21:20) finished well.  Aaron Carlyle (22:08) sprinted away from Mal McCausland (22:40) in the later stages while Lara Smailes (24:33) showed her usual guts and determination.


DTC Athletes Shine on International Duty.

14 January 2017

Surprisingly for the first time since 2002 there was a Kenyan double at the IAAF Antrim International Cross Country at Greenmount College. Olympic Steeplechase champion Consesius Kipruto took the men’s race with a late sprint while Caroline Kipkirui opened up a winning gap early on in the women’s contest.


Adam and Conán did DTC proud with impressive performances at the Antrim International.

Derry Track Club athletes Adam Kirk-Smith and Conán McCaughey were included in the Northern Ireland men’s selection.  Both took advantage of their appearance on the international stage to produce impressive results.

Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council sponsored the meeting which was held in unexpectedly mild conditions given the forecast of snow earlier in the week. Nevertheless the frequent showers and recent heavy rain made for a treacherous underfoot conditions that caught out more than a few as the afternoon progressed.

The treacherous going proved no problem for fleet-footed Kipruto who broke away along with Abraham Cheroben after a speedy opening circuit of four. Only Great Britain’s Andy Vernon gave any serious chase and to the credit of the Aldershot athlete he was still only 30 metres back entering the final lap.

But Vernon could not respond when the leaders picked up the pace in the final two kilometres when the 22-year-old and his former compatriot, but naturalised Bahraini, started to jockey for the victory.

Olympic Steeplechase champion Consesius Kipruto gets home ahead of Abraham Cheroben.

The pair entered the short final straight shoulder to shoulder but it was the Olympic gold medallist who had the superior speed to see him home by a narrow one metre margin.

The rugged Englishman ploughed on impressively in the soft going for third to match his placing in 2013 although surpassed by a runner-up spot three years earlier. London-based Adam Kirk-Smith, in 12th, led home the Ulster team followed by Seamus Lynch and Conan McCaughey.

“It was easy,” said Kipruto who was barely out of breath. “We went out fast and I knew I had it from a lap to go.”

Vernon did not find anything easy about it: “It was the hardest I’ve ever found it here because of the going. I could have run another two laps but I couldn’t have gone any faster.”

Caroline Kipkirui had no such problem in the women’s race. She was rewarded for making the long trip from Kenya exclusively for the race with an emphatic victory after spreading the field out as early as the opening lap. That seemed to catch the opposition off guard and left her with a 40 metres lead and growing as she went out into the country for the second time.

Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack tried to fight back during that second circuit but was still well in arrears at the start of the bell lap. Worse was to follow for the former two-time European Cross champion as she lost a shoe out on the back of the course and with it all hopes of a hat-trick of victories at the meeting.

Meantime Kipkirui, unaware of what was going on behind her, took advantage of the Irish woman’s misfortune to come home well clear of Ethiopia’s Gotytom Gebreslase and Birtukan Adamu who held off McCormack by a second for third place. Fionnuala Ross was first home of the Ulster squad back in 16th.

“God gave me the strength to do that,” said Kipkirui and repeated it before explaining that she spent two months in the United States and would be returning directly to Kenya to prepare for the World Cross in Uganda this March.

McCormack was naturally angry and disappointed but quickly regained her usual good humour. “Maybe it’s because I left Mass early last weekend that I lost my shoe,” she quipped on hearing of Kipkirui’s divine assistance.

She had hoped to finish her cross country season at Antrim but may now seek out another race possibly the Almond Blossom in Portugal.

Kayla showed good form at Antrim.

Derry Track Club’s top juveniles also took the opportunity of a run out before next month’s Schools’ District Championships with Kayla McLaughlin showing good form in the Girls’ U15 race.

Ben Mellon, Sean McIntyre, Ben Bradley, Dean Quigley and Lara Smailes all met with varying degrees of success. See results.


Antrim International Cross Country

Men (8.4K): 1 Conseslus       Kipruto KEN 24:36, 2 Abraham      Cheroben BRN 24:37, 3 Andy Vernon     GBR   24:56, 4         Sidi-Hassan Chahdi FRA 25:20, 5 Jonathan Taylor ENG 25:27, 6         Lachlan      Oates SCO 25:54; Ulster: 12 Adam Kirk Smith 26:54, 13 Seamus Lynch 27:00, 14 Conan McCaughey 27:07, 16 Conor Duffy 27:37, 18 Neil Johnston 27:45.

Women (5.6K): 1         Caroline Kipkirui KEN    18:53, 2 Gotytom Gebreslase ETH FO 19:35, 3 Birtukan Adamu         ETH 19:38, 4 Fionnuala McCormack IRL FO 19:39, 5 Pippa       Woolven ENG 19:50, 6 Claire Duck ENG 19:57; Ulster: 16 Fionnuala Ross 21:15, 20 Jessica Craig 21:48, 22 Gladys Ganiel 21:57, 25 Amy Bulman 22:46, 26 Jodi Smith 22:58, 27 Rachel Gibson 23:11.


The New Year has brought more honours for two of Derry Track Club’s star athletes with Adam Kirk-Smith representing Northern Ireland/Ulster at the Antrim International on January 14 while Shane McGowan is set to line up for NI/Ulster at the Celtic International in Cardiff eight days later.

Adam Kirk-Smith is set to take on an international field in Antrim.

For Shane McGowan it is his first representative honour at cross country since he was a schoolboy and is reward for a hard autumn’s endurance work.

Shane McGowan makes the trip to Cardiff for Celtic International.

He was disappointed with a seventh place in the Ulster Novice after an illness the previous week but showed his true pedigree at the Irish Novice where he was an outstanding 11th.  That helped DTC to silver team medals.

Meanwhile DTC athletes eased themselves  into what promises to be a busy 2017 with an outing to the parkrun.

There was a double for the Lean Green Running Machine in Omagh where Paul Barbour got over an achilles strain with a smooth victory over a 225-strong field  in 16:56.

Not to be outdone Deirdre Haigney, Irish 400m champion in her age group, showed she is woman for all seasons by leading the women home.

There were no less than 13 DTC athletes in action at the Limavady parkrun boosting numbers to almost 40.  Cathal McLaughlin showed he is wintering well with an impressive win in 17:35 as DTC athletes filled the first six places.

Marina Murphy was equally emphatic in winning the women’s race in 19:12.  Both Marina (VW35-39) and Cathal (VM45-49) set age group records as did Kayla McLaughlin in the JW11-14.

Conan McCaughey was in action at Holyrood Park in Edinburgh.

Further afield Conan McCaughey warmed up for more personal challenges later in the month with a 22nd spot in the Inter-Area match helping East to a narrow victory in the team competition.