Two Derry Track Club members are among the nine leading Irish Para athletes and key support staff are participating in warm weather training camps ahead of the London 2017 World Para Athletics  Championships.

Jason Smyth takes gold in Rio (Photo: BBC)

DTC duo Jason Smyth and Conor McIlveen are along with Orla Comerford, Paul Keogan, Greta Streimikyte and Patrick Monahan  in Tenerife.

Conor (Big Dog) McIlveen is burning up the track in Tenerife.

Elsewhere four of the throwers; Noelle Lenihan, Niamh McCarthy, Orla Barry and Deirdre Mongan are in their way to Gran Canaria with coaches Dave Sweeney, Jim Lenihan and physio support.

Michael McKillop is also headed for a training stint abroad as he flies out to an altitude camp in Font-Romeu in the Pyrenees with an Athletics Ireland group.

These 11 day camps are essential preparation as the athletes prepare for an exciting season ahead with the centrepiece the London 2017 World Para Athletics Championships between 14-23 July.


12 April 2017

The 10K distance caught the attention of Derry Track Club athletes at the weekend with Marina Murphy, Paul Barbour, Andy Maguire and Amy McDaid all tackling the distance at various locations.

Marina on her way to victory in Gortin.

Marina used the Gortin 10K to test her fitness after a very positive winter’s training and racing.  The Waterside woman found her endurance to be fully up to scratch on a tough and hilly course when she finished second overall behind husband Michael in 39 minutes and five seconds.

Paul Barbour made a swift return to action after his podium place in the Omagh Half Marathon when he lined up in the Titanic Quarter 10K that attracted a field of 1400 entrants.

Barbour was prominent early on but started to feel the fatigue from his exertions eight days earlier.  Despite fading in the later stages he finished an excellent ninth in 33:39.

Up front triathlete Russell White had a race long tussle with Chris Madden before prevailing by a mere three seconds over the City of Lisburn runner in 31 minutes and 46 seconds. Former winner Conor Duffy from Monaghan was in contention for most of the distance and finished another three seconds back in third.

Elsewhere Andy Maguire (42:12) was third in the Feeney Fast & Furious 10K while Amy McDaid (41:30) was  third lady across the line in Convoy.

Elsewhere DTC athletes were out in numbers at the Derry City parkrun.  Sean McIntyre showed no sign of fatigue from a tough week’s training in Portugal as he flew to a personal best 18:32 for third finisher spot.

Sean McIntyre

Cathal McLaughlin (18:38),  Robert Bigger (19.29/81.61%), Ben Mellon (20:32), David Mellon (21:08), Kayla McLaughlin (23:25) and Lara Smailes (25:27) also took the opportunity to stretch their legs before more serious challenges.

Across the water in Birmingham, Conán McCaughey had a great long stage leg at the National 12 Stage Road Relays.  The Enniskillen man had the second fastest long leg for his Scottish club Central Region that finished 14th.




Paul Barbour Ends Road Season with a Flourish.

April showers and gusty conditions did not deter over 3200 runners hitting the streets for the SPAR Omagh Half Marathon and associated 5K Run.  Despite the inclement weather both Stephen Duncan and Catherine Whoriskey posted creditable times in lifting the main prizes.

Paul Barbour (left) is already in contention during the early stages of the Omagh Half Marathon (Photo: John T Glover).

Derry Track Club’s Paul Barbour wound up his road running season with a fine third spot in 73:10 – an excellent time in the conditions.  The Omagh man will now turn his attention to the track with 5000m being the chosen distance.

With not even a Kenyan in sight this year, Stephen Duncan seized the opportunity to take the lead and was never threatened afterwards. He went on to break the tape in 70 minutes and five seconds to bridge a six years gap back to his only other victory in the race. Early leader Mark Long took second in 72:50 and Paul Barbour showed a good return to form with a third spot another 20 seconds back.

“I thought my chance of taking a second win had gone,” said the 45-year-old leisure centre worker/partime fireman. “The first mile went off fast but when I saw everyone else fading after a mile and a half, I decided to go on myself.

“When someone told me at nine and a half miles, I was over two minutes clear, I must admit I took my foot off the gas a bit.  Besides it was starting to rain and there was no point in pushing on for a good time,” concluded the Omagh Harrier who confirmed he will run the Lifford-Strabane Half Marathon on May14.

Catherine Whoriskey was an even more dominant winner of the women’s race. The City of Derry Spartan showed no signs of any residual fatigue after the Seville Marathon six weeks ago and two subsequent ten mile races as she romped home in 76:52. Karen Alexander improved on her fourth place in Larne two weeks earlier as she claimed the runner-up spot in 81:54, ahead of Louise Smith who was third in 83:03.

Cathaoir Donnelly was first home in the 5K Run that attracted almost 1500 starters.  Ethan Dunn was second in 17:13 with John McQuade seizing the bronze medal spot in 17:27.  Schools’ cross country starlet Niamh Heaney was the first female across the line in 19:44.

In other local road running action the Pure Running Half Marathon Series continued yesterday with the Subway Hollywood Exchange race where Andrew Considine grabbed top spot in in 76:50 and Judith Lonnen established herself as the leading lady in 84:50. Stephen O’Gorman showed a clean pair of heels to the field at the Seapatrick 10K in a speedy 34:46 timing and Fionnuala Diver was the winner of the Run Donegal’s Female 5K in 18:46.

Ireland’s Sean Hehir continued his preparations for the London Marathon in three weeks with a fine 14th in yesterday’s Berlin Half Marathon recording 65 minutes and 39 seconds.  Kenya’s Gilbert Masai was the winner of the race in 59:57. An incredible 34,004 runners from 106 nations entered Germany’s biggest and fastest half marathon race.

On Saturday, Joyciline Jepkosgei smashed the World half-marathon record in Prague and also breaking three other world records on her way to her time of 64:52.  The Kenyan clocked splits of 30:05, 45:37 and 61:25 to improve the 10K, 15K and 20K global marks respectively. USA’s Galen Rupp placed 11th in the men’s race with a 61:59 timing.



SPAR Omagh Half Marathon

Men: 1Stephen Duncan (M45) 1:10:05, 2 Mark Long 1:12:50, 3 Paul Barbour 1:13:10, 4 Francis McDaid (M35) 1:13:30, 5 Shane Brady 1:14:41, 6 Noel McNally 1:15:00, 7 Martin Gallagher 1:15:03, 8 Martin McVey (M35) 1:15:10, 9 Justin Maxwell (M35) 1:15:16, 10 Aidan Callaghan 1:15:26.

Women: 1 Catherine Whoriskey 1:16:52, 2 Karen Alexander (F35) 1:21:54,3 Louise Smith  (F45) 1:23:03, 4 Gerrie Short (F40) 1:24:43, 5 Ciara McSherry 1:27:45, 6 Donna Evans (F50) 1:28:05, 7 Donna Mone (F35) 1:28:28, 8 Amy Lavery 1:29:53, 9 Tara Malone (F35) 1:30:30, 10 Karen McLaughlin (F45) 1:30:29.

5K: 1 Cathaoir Donnelly 17:02, 2 Ethan Dunn 17:13, 3 John McQuade 17:27; Women: 1 Niamh Heaney 19:44, 2 Sorcha Mullan 19:51, 3 Emma Mullholland 20:13.

Couch 2 5K but then where?

Couch to 5K classes are common place in practically every town and city in Ireland.  A similar Fit 4 Life programme runs in the Republic.  Some of the Couch programmes may last as little as six weeks but better ones go on for maybe ten to twelve. 

Dental Solutions 5K – One of many races at the distance.

Many people have been introduced to running in this manner in recent years and have benefited from the improvement in health and sometimes mental wellbeing that come with exercise.

But what do you do when you have conquered the 3.1 miles distance and put your photo on Facebook wearing that treasured tee-shirt?  A lot of people move immediately on to 10K, half-marathon or even the full 26.2 mile distance.  But is that a wise decision given the lack of background work done by many?  Why not improve at 5K before moving up?


Races over this distance are short but intense. They are perfect for anyone who wants to take part in local races or a parkrun near their home.  One of the benefits of racing 5K is that you recover quickly.  You can get up and go to your work the following morning without have to go down the stairs backwards as is the case after a half or full marathon.


If you want success that you have a plan.  The internet is full of 5K training plans or you can draw up your own with the assistance of a qualified coach. Any plan will have to take into account your own running background, your circumstances and what you hope to achieve. Without a plan you will not achieve your máximum.

In a race of 5000 metres, the energy requirement is met largely by the aerobic system (90-95%).  For that reason, it would be unwise to fill your training programme with intense training and speedwork. Slow, easy running has a part to play in all training programmes and 5K is no different.

The combination of easy running combined with a measure of intense training and adequate rest will help you achieve that desired personal best.


Like all distances, this is the 64 million dollar question and always difficult to answer. For a start, a runner of 20 and one of 50 are very different creatures.  Similarly, there is a gulf in training capacity between someone who has run all their life and a person who has just got into running through a couch to 5K programme.

A distinction has to be drawn between a runner who wishes to be competitive and one who simply wants to improve their time. There is no stock answer.  However with training on 4-5 times per week, it is possible to achieve your goal without affecting your work or family life. On the other hand some people run well on just two sessions per week.


The natural progression is to move up to 10K – unfortunately five-milers (8K) races are not as common as once they were in the past. Again, the time for this move varies from runner to runner depending on individual circumstances such as background, experience and objectives.  Probably the best time is when you feel you can run a 5K without it being a huge effort for your body.

If you are still finishing 5Ks in a physically distressed state and you cannot train the next day, perhaps you should not contemplate a race of a longer distance for the present.  You could also think about your 5K time and if you are not breaking 35 minutes, it might be an indicator to stick to the shorter efforts until you do

Get a Running High on Grass..

The evenings are getting brighter and there is more opportunity for runners to leave the road and enjoy our parks and trails.  Derry Track Club’s Dr Andrew Maguire PhD, a dedicated runner and triathlete himself, shares some recent research on the benefits of getting off those hard footpaths.

Do your legs a favour and get off the hard roads and onto grass this spring and summer.

As runners, we have been told time and again, that running on grass is better for us. Instead of relying on anecdotal chat, here is the science to prove it!

In recent research by Lin Wang & Co., they scientifically measured the plantar (sole) loads experienced by runners when running on different surfaces. Their research was done by studying 15 runners.  These were all male with averages of 23 years of age, weight 63kg, Height 172cm height and UK shoe size of 8.5.

The researchers analysed how the runners’ plantars interacted with various surfaces using insole sensor systems when running on concrete (road/pavement), synthetic rubber (track), and grass surfaces at a running speed of 3.8 m/s that equates to a nifty seven minutes per mile pace.

Although the article goes in to a lot of scientific detail, their overall findings are interesting. One of the first things that they found was that the plantar had a longer surface contact time when running on grass, compared to track and road.

Overall, running on grass showed ‘a lower magnitude of maximum plantar pressure (451.8kPa vs. 401.7kPa, p = 0.016)’ which basically means that there was less pressure placed on the sole of the foot that amounted to a reduction of about 12%. This reduction is quite significant and clearly shows how injuries can be avoided.

Wang also reminded us that the impact force on the foot when running is approximately 2.5 times greater than our body weight and carrying excessive body weight can increase your risk of injury. What the authors also highlight is that running on different surfaces requires different techniques in so much as ‘runners must increase their leg stiffness when running on compliant surfaces (e.g. natural grass) and decrease leg stiffness on hard surfaces’.

Thus, ‘when runners run on concrete, they run with larger ankle, knee, and hip flexion at heel strike’ – flexion is movement decreasing the angle between articulating bones, such as decreasing the inner angle of the joint (for example, plantarflexion is the bending of the toes towards the sole, and the opposite movement to flexion is extension.

So, there we have it folks, we now have scientific proof to back up what many have been saying for years – running on softer surfaces can significantly help in the prevention of injuries. But it is also important that you remember that you need appropriate footwear, but more importantly, an adjusted/appropriate running technique for the surface in question.

(Further reading: ‘Comparison of Plantar Loads During Running on Different Overground Surfaces’, Research in Sports Medicine, 2012, Vol. 20, Issue 2.)