24 May 2017

Adam Kirk-Smith became the seventh NI athlete to meet a Commonwealth Games consideration standard when he ran 8:37.62 for the 3000m steeplechase in Belgium on Saturday night (27 May 2017).  Kirk-Smith placed 15th in a high quality race won by Spain’s Daniel Arce Ibañez in 8:29.24.

The Lisburn man’s time knocked a massive nine seconds off his previous best set only six days earlier at the Loughborough International.  It also places the Derry Track Club athlete fifth on merit of the seven who have gained consideration standards to date.


Derry Track Club’s five-time Paralympic gold medallist Jason Smyth braved the wet and miserable conditions in Tullamore to clock 22.33 seconds (-1.0) and qualify for this summer’s IPC Championships in London.

Conor McIlveen succumbed to the poor weather and finished outside the 4:40 target he was looking for in the 1500m.  He will now have to sweat it out to see if he gains selection for the London Paralympics.


26 May 2017

Derry Track Club successfully defended both men’s and woman’s titles at an excellently organised Carrickmore 4 x 1 Mile Championships in County Tyrone.

The club’s over 45s made it hat-trick of victories thanks to a powerful display of speed and strength from Cathal McLaughlin.   That meant DTC won three of the four races open to athletics clubs.

The winning men’s team (L-R: McCaughey, Boyle, McGowan, and extreme right Cox.)

Marty Cox (4:43) showed no sign of fatigue from a personal best 2:01 800m the previous evening as he made a sound start  for DTC coming home just a stride or two down on leaders Acorns.

Conán McCaughey (4:35) finished the race off as a contest on the seconds leg as he whizzed round the hilly circuit in a new lap record.

Former Irish schools’ international Adrian Boyle (5:00) showed fine composure as he turned in a solid leg to maintain the DTC advantage on the third loop.

Recent NI Running Miles victor Shane McGowan (4:37) had no opposition on the final leg but still managed to cruise to the second fastest time of the evening for DTC’s third consecutive men’s win.

The DTC women were also in sparkling form with Marina Murphy (5:27) the club in front at the first changeover.  Youth took over at that point with 14-year-old Kayla McLaughlin (6:22) and 16-year-old Enya Haigney opening up an unassailable lead.

Elaine Connor (6:00) made it a personal hat-trick as she anchored

The fast DTC ladies L-R: Enya Haigney, Kayla McLaughlin, Elaine Connor and team manager Deirdre Haigney (missing Marina Murphy).

the team to victory with her third win in three races.  The Bready accountant had won her race at the NI Running Miles before being first lady across the line in the 5K at the Strabane-Lifford Half Marathon.

DTC Masters L-R: McLaughlin, Bigger and McCausland.

Cathal McLaughlin ran first and last legs in the Over 45 race posting amazing 5:03 and 5:07 clockings with exactly 12 minutes and 13 seconds recovery.  This was exceptional running by any standard, not least for a man just short of his 50th birthday, and bodes well for a medal at the European Masters’ in Denmark at the end of July.

Malcolm McCausland (6:30) and Robert Bigger (5:43) were the sandwich filling as the DTC Masters’ claimed 11th place overall.

The DTC B team exceeded all expectations with a fine fifth place finish.  Sean McIntyre opened well with a 5:06 split before the incredible Haigney brothers Dan (5:22) and Tomás (5:23) made outstanding contributions.  Andy Maguire finished off well with a 5:35 timing.

Cathal was not the only DTC athlete to double up as Marina Murphy (5:59) and Conán McCaughey contributed third and fourth legs to the DTC C team that finished ninth.  A broken wrist did not prevent Ben Mellon (5:39) turning in an impressive opening leg before Eugene Haigney (5:47) contributed  a  strong second leg.

21 June 2017

Loughborough International

DTC’s Adam Kirk-Smith took a major step toward Commonwealth Games selection when he took over five seconds off his 3000m steeplechase best at the Loughborough International. 

The Lisburn man, now based in London and coached by former Slovenian international Tomaz Plibersek, finished second in the race.  He now only needs a few seconds more to meet the 8:43 consideration standard.

Adam will be competing at the NI Champs on June 10 and may also return for the Letterkenny International on July 14 where there is a special men’s steeplechase.

19/20 May 2017

Ulster Secondary Schools Track & Field Championships

Enya Haigney was the top DTC performer at the Ulster Schools Championships claiming a silver medal in the Intermediate Girls’ 1500m Steeplechase.

Enya returned to the track the following day to polish up on her speedwork in the 300m.  After a qualifying from the heats, the Loreto Omagh pupil took sixth in the final with a 45.40 seconds timing.

Enya’s brother Tomás had a great run in the Mini Boys’ 800m to lift the bronze medal in a fine 2:20.58.   The other member of the talented Haigney clan, Dan, may not have come home with a medal but impressed with 4:34.61 mark for sixth place in the Junior Boys’ 1500m.

One of the busiest athletes at the meeting may have been Kayla McLaughlin who ran heats and finals of both 300m flat and hurdles in the course of Saturday.  It was a debut at the hurdles for the St. Cecelia’s pupil who has another year in the age group.

Nevertheless, Kayla strode through the heats of both events before a sixth place finish in the hurdles and later an eighth in the flat race.  All-Ireland finals beckon for the quiet and unassuming athlete who is in her third year at DTC.

Best wishes to our clubmate Paul Barbour who is undergoing tests in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.  We pray all goes well for him and it will not be long before he is back in a green vest.  We are assured by the fact you cannot keep a good man down (for long at least!).



McIlveen Shines on the International Stage

15 May 2017

Another weekend and more success for Derry Track Club athletes as Conor McIlveen shone on the international stage and there was domestic victory from a relative newcomer to the running game.  Impressive results too from our pair of representatives in the Strabane-Lifford Half Marathon.

Conor on the presentation podium (complete with halo of lights).

Conor McIlveen continued to chase selection for the IPC World Championships in London this summer.  Latest stop on the Big Dog’s tour took him to Barcelona for the L’Hospitalet Grand Prix.

Pitted against all categories McIlveen flew to the silver medal spot in the 1500m behind Christiano Pereira.  The Portuguese is a T20 (intellectually-challenged) performer meaning that he has no physical disability.

Pereira’s superiority showed from the gun before going on to run a time the region of four minutes even.  Behind him, the DTC athlete easily outpaced his rivals but not without some difficulty during the race.

After the opening lap in a promising 70 seconds, McIlveen found the laces in his left shoe came undone meaning he had to slacken his pace on the bends.  Nevertheless he ploughed on to a well-deserved silver medal and his first ever cash award of 50 euros.

Undaunted the Woodbrook resident returned to the track after an hour to run his first 400m of the season.  After a sluggish opening furlong, McIlveen steamed home in sixth spot in a personal best 58.40 seconds.

At home the main focus was on the Strabane-Lifford Half Marathon where DTC had two runners in action.  Andrew Maguire warmed up for next month’s Walled City Marathon with a fine 1:28:28 while footballer turned runner David Mellon had an exceptional 1:42:47 on his debut at the distance.

However, it was Elaine Connor who caught the eye with an incredible run for third place overall in the ancillary 5K race.  The Bready woman only took up the sport at the start of 2016 but has made rapid strides forward since joining DTC twelve months ago.

Elaine Connor goes from strength to strength.

She impressed the previous weekend with a win at the NI Running Mile Event and stepped another gear to lead the women home in Strabane.  Elaine’s official time was 20:43, a second outside her best, but the course measures more than 5K on her watch which recorded her at 20:23 for 5000m.

National & International News

Banbridge athlete Emma Mitchell took a step closer to next year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia when she posted a new Northern Ireland 5000m record of 15 minutes and 50.55 seconds at the British Milers’ Club Grand Prix in Solihull on Saturday night.

Emma Mitchell

That sliced almost three seconds off Teresa Duffy’s old mark set in Paris on June 2, 1996 and puts the 23-year-old Queen’s University student within striking distance of the Games standard of 15:39 to be achieved before 30 September this year.

Mitchell ran a consistent race, allowing early leader Clare Duck to build up a sizeable lead before Louise Small came through to win in 15:42.47.  Mitchell was third with Newcastle AC’s Kerry O’Flaherty slipping back to seventh in 16:32.56 after suffering a calf injury in the early stages of the race.

Bellaghy man Adam McMullen went one better in Florida when he achieved a Commonwealth qualifying mark in the long jump. McMullen, who competes for Dublin club Crusaders AC, got out to a personal best of 7.85m (+0.4) in Florida to exceed the required distance by seven centimetres.

Leon Reid showed that it may not be long before he books his place on the flight to the Gold Coast when he raced to windy 10.26 and 10.27 times in Waterford. Reid’s mother was born in Belfast and he won European Junior and U23 silver medals in the colours of Great Britain but is reportedly in the process of switching allegiance to Ireland.

In local road running action Kenya’s Dan Tanui (34:20) and City of Lisburn’s Judith Lonnen (39:02) were the winners of rain-soaked Friday night Les Jones 10K. Tanui turned out again to head home the field in yesterday’s Strabane-Lifford Half Marathon.

After moving through half way with team mate Hillary Chirchir, Tanui went on to cross the line in 1:06:16, Chirchir took second in 1:07:30 with Stephen Duncan third in 1:10:42.  Catherine Whoriskey was the first woman to finish recording 1:18:32, ahead of another Kenyan Salome Jepkoech Kimutai (1:21:05) and Michelle Sweeney (1:31:07).

Meanwhile sprinters and an outstanding long jumper stole the show at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai.  Olympic champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica clocked a superfast 10.78 (-0.3) seconds to win the 100m. But the sprint star of Saturday night had to be 19-year-old American Noah Lyles who stopped the clock at 19.90 in winning the men’s 200, becoming just the fourth teenager to break 20 seconds barrier.  Another Olympic champ Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas destroyed everyone to win the 400m in a world-leading 49.77.

South Africa’s Luvo Manyonga put in an incredible series to win the long jump yet saved the best wine until last when he got out to a Diamond League record of 8.61 meters. Equally impressive was what preceded it. Although Manyonga fouled three times, his three legal jumps were all huge; 8.48m, 8.49m and the 8.61m coup de grace. Any of the three would have been good enough to earn gold at the past three Olympics.

In the distance races, two-time Olympic champion David Rudisha (1:45.36) finished outside the top three in Shanghai for the second consecutive year. On this occasion he was beaten young compatriot Kipyegon Bett (1:44.70).  Other Kenyans Faith Kipyegon (3:59.22) and Hellen Obiri (14:22.47) won the 1500m and 5000m respectively with ease and world record holder Ruth Jebet (9:04.78) took the steeplechase.



6 May 2017

Shane McGowan headlined another memorable weekend for Derry Track Club athletes as Big Dog Conor McIlveen took another step toward the IPC Championships in London.  Marina Murphy cemented her title as Queen of the Roads and the world’s fastest Paralympian Jason  Smyth opened his season in Florida.

NI Running Mile
Shane McGowan showed a new-found maturity in his racing to land the top prize at the superbly well organised NI Running Miles Meeting at the Mary Peters Track.

The DTC athlete took up the reins at the bell and quick injection of pace along the backstraight give him five metres over the opposition as he came off the final bend.  Keeping his rhythm over the final straight, McGowan landed arguably his biggest victory to date in 4:29.91 – very respectable give the cold and windy conditions.

L-R: Conán McCaughey, Shane McGowan and John Black (photo: www.nirunning.co.uk

Clubmate Conán McCaughey chased hard over the final lap and looked as though he was going to land a 1-2 for the club entering the homestraight.  But, a spirited challenge from North Belfast Harrier John Black saw the popular Fermanagh man end up third in 4:32.54, a good opener for a season that promises so much for him.

However, DTC club captain Marty Cox could so easily have walked away with the top prize after blasting out an impressive 4:38.88 in race 13.  The Omagh man took the proverbial bull by the horns from the gun to win by the length of the straight and if the elite race had developed into a tactical affair would have been crowned champion.

As it was Cox will take encouragement from a respectable time in adverse conditions, especially give the fact that he lost two months with a prolonged chest infection and had done only the minimum speedwork going into the race.

Sean McIntyre, 15, showed that he maturing nicely with a solid third place behind Cox while there was a third heat victory for a DTC athlete when Elaine Connor kicked impressively down the final straightaway in race 10 with a personal best 5:47.51 timing.

David Mellon also showed major improvement with a hard fought runner-up spot in race 12.

Athletics NI Opening Meeting
Conor McIlveen took another step closer to the London IPC Championships when he clocked 4:41 for 1500m at the Athletics NI Open Meeting at the Mary Peters.

Aided and abetted by clubmate Cathal Mclaughlin, Big Dog  registered a PB-equalling mark to move himself into contention for Ireland’s team for London in July.

Ballyshannon 5K Road Race
Marina Murphy clocked her second personal best in 10 days when she took second in the women’s race at the Ballyshannon 5K in Donegal.  The Waterside woman crossed the finish mats in 17:43 for her first time under 18 minutes for the distance.

That was a 22 second improvement on her previous best set in Buncrana less than two weeks earlier.  Husband Michael also had an excellent race with a 16:25 mark for third M40.

E District Schools
All three of the super Haigneys passed through the District E championships to take their place in the Ulster finals later this month.

Tomás recorded 2:22 in the Mini Boys’ 800m,  Dan was timed at 4:44 in the Junior Boys’ 1500m and Enya ran 44secs in 300 and 5:20  for the 1500m steeple in the Intermediate Girls’ age group.

Jason Smyth 
The world’s fastest Paralympic athlete with a best of 10.22 seconds for 100m opened his account in Florida.  The Eglinton man sped to a 10.94 clocking into a 0.7 m/s breeze to mark himself out as favourite for T13 category gold in London this July.

Finally More Good News
Nothing has shown up on the MRI scan and our clubmate Paul Barbour has been discharged from Altnagelvin Hospital.  Paul will rest for some weeks before submitting himself to more tests in Belfast.


3 May 2017

Derry Track Club’s Paul Barbour is recovering well in hospital after a near death experience last week.  The popular Omagh man was out running in his home town when he became alarmed at the rate at which his heart was beating.

Paul Barbour in action at the NI/Ulster Intermediate Cross Country in January.

Thankfully Paul did the sensible thing and stopped.  As his heart continued to beat out a samba rhythm, he took himself off to the nearby hospital.

On arrival, he reputedly had a heart rate well into the 200s but passed out shortly afterwards only to be resuscitated with defibrillators by the medical team.

After spending a few days in Altnagelvin Hospital attached to a cardio machine, he will today be brought to Erne Hospital for an MRI scan of his heart.

Our heartfelt wishes for a speedy recovery go out to him.


25 April 2017

Enya Haigney made an impressive start to the outdoor season with a personal best and a solid performance at the first Trafford AC Grand Prix Meeting in Manchester.

Enya Haigney churned out a new 1500m PB in Manchester.

The Omagh lass looked relaxed throughout in the mixed B race to clock in 4:4:50.47 – an improvement of two seconds on her previous mark.

Shane McGowan (800m – 1:58.88) and  Conor McIveen (1500m – 4:45.81) also took advantage of the early season meeting to register respectable times.

Earlier Conán McCaughey had sent out a message that he is going to be a force this summer with a facile victory in the 5K in Banbridge with a 15:05 clocking.

Now based in Belfast, McCaughey will be sharpening up his speed with mark Kirk’s group at the Mary Peters Track.


What The Ladies Can Teach Us About Injuries…

In the second article of an occasional series Dr Andrew Maguire looks at the disparity in injury rates between men and women. What can male runners learn from the ladies?

When I first started to run 15 years ago, I was often the solitary practitioner of this now very popular sports activity. When running on the Queens Quay along the banks of the River Foyle, I now find myself one of many runners taking advantage of what are now excellent running routes that are both safe and picturesque.

There are more running clubs than ever before and these reflect a broad demographic. What is often overlooked, is the number of women who are now pounding the highways and byways. What I have noticed over the years is that female runners tend to get injured significantly less than their male counterparts! Why is this the case?

Well, van der Worp et al. have surveyed much of the research on this phenomenon and come up with some interesting findings in their article on the risk factors between the sexes.

Although running is considered as “one of the most efficient ways to achieve physical fitness”, there is always the ever-present risk of injury (especially lower-limb), and strategies are needed to prevent such injuries in the first place. In analysing the differences in male/female injury rates, van der Worp asserts that “women are at a lower risk of running injuries than men”.

They identified the following factors that placed women at increased risk of injury; older age, running marathons, training on hard surfaces (road & concrete), weekly mileage more than 30 and coming from non-axial (shock impact) sports such as swimming/cycling.

On the other hand, factors that placed men at greater risk of injury were; running more than 40 miles per week, novice runners with less than 2 years’ experience, just returning to running, and previous injury. They found that men have a significantly higher risk of injury than women – especially those under 40 years of age.

However, regardless of gender, 80% of running disorders are attributed to overuse.  And what can be gleaned from their findings is that men tend to over-train in terms of distance and intensity whereas women tend to err on the side of caution. Additionally, it appears that men do not give themselves sufficient recovery time from injury, and even when they do, they increase their training regime too much upon returning.

Even from personal experience, I have often found myself pushing too hard, too soon, in terms of what I am capable of – thus resulting in repeat injury. From participant observation over the years, I certainly echo the findings of van der Worp in so much as men generally adopt a less patient approach to running and ultimately find themselves paying the price of being side-lined for prolonged periods.

Such an approach to a very physically and psychologically demanding sport, can easy result in a vicious circle of injury after injury.  In conclusion, it’s fair to say that male runners can learn a lot from their female counterparts in terms of training and avoiding injury.

Further reading: Maarten van der Worp et al. ‘Injuries in Runners: A Systematic Review on Risk Factors and Sex Differences’, PLOS ONE, Feb. 2015, pp.1-18



These are some suggestions for Novice runners on how to improve their 5K times before tackling the longer distances.  


Include short repetitions (Intervals of 200/300/400/500m) at speeds faster than the desired pace of your 5K.


To improve your running speed, it is important that you make yourself more flexible and stronger.  In this way you can increase your stride length without impairing your running efficiency. You have to be strong to run fast.


Training intensity is greater for 5K races than say for 10Ks and longer distances. This means you need to take longer recoveries between reps.


Notwithstanding the need for speed, the 5K is still a largely aerobic event.  For this reason attention should still be paid to underlying fitness.  Long runs should still be included in a typical week’s training although these do not need to be longer than 60 minutes in duration but run a a brisker tempo than for marathon training.

  1. HILLS

Running hill sessions strengthen the legs and help prepare for the sensation of fatigue felt during the final kilometres of a race. Hills also improve running efficiency on the flat and help increase the stride length through improved leg strength.

  1. WARM-UP

A good wam-up routine is needed if you want to run fast either in race or before a speed session.  This should not be seen as a prelude to training but instead an integral part of the session.  Start off with easy running for 10 minutes followed by some dynamic stretching and a few easy strides before you get down to the serious business.


The following is suggested as a typical week for someone wishing to break 20 minutes for 5K.

Tuesday: 6 x 1000m on the road in 3:50-4:00 with 3 minutes jog recovery;

Wednesday: 45 minutes recovery run at 5:30 per kilometre pace.

Thursday: 8 x 200m on track/road/grass starting easy and then trying to run each rep a second faster – recovery 3 mins jogging.
10 x 150m hills with jog back recovery.

Saturday: parkrun at 4:20 per kilometre pace.

Sunday: 60 minutes run at 5:00 per kilometre pace.

Malcolm McCausland
UK Athletics Level IV Performance Coach