28 May 2018

Derry Track Club had four teams in action at the hugely enjoyable Carrickmore Mile Relay Championships organised by Michael Kerr and his team of Carmen Runners.

Newcomers to the event, Finn Valley, made an immediate mark with victories in the Senior Men’s and Mixed races. A strong Omagh Harriers quartet took the Senior Women’s title while the fastest mile of the night was recorded by Finn Valley’s Gerard Gallagher with a record-breaking 4:28 mark.

The DTC women get ready for battle.

The DTC Senior Men finished an excellent fourth overall with Paul Barbour impressing on the second leg with a 4:53 timing.  Adrian Boyle (4:59), Cathal McLaughlin (5:07) and John McQuade (5:16), returning from injury, all made sound contributions.

Stars of the night, from a DTC perspective, were the U17 squad who finished an astonishing seventh overall of the 56 teams!  Dan Haigney (15) got the show on the road with a first leg of 5:04 before handing over to Sé Heaney (15) who caught the eye with a 5:13 split.  Dylan Doherty (16) and Ben Mellon (15) completed the job with 5:41 and 5:39 timings respectively.

The Senior Women were no less impressive finishing 20th overall and third women’s team, just 12 seconds behind runners-up St. Peter’s, Lurgan.  Enya Haigney opened with a 5:48 clocking before handing over to Elaine Connor (5:51) who just gets better with every outing.  New girls Michelle Donnelly (5:57) and Kelly O’Neill (5:53) showed they will be forces to reckon with in the months and hopefully years ahead in the green vest.

Our mixed team also competed with distinction with 60-year-old Robert Bigger returning a fantastic opening leg of 5:26. David Mellon  (6:11) looked composed on the second circuit before Kayla McLaughlin (6:50) and Lara Smailes (6:41) brought the baton safely home in 30th spot.

Tomás collects his award.

The action switched to the Mary Peters Track the following day and we did not have long to wait before we had our first win as 13-year-old Tomás Haigney romped to a comfortable victory in the U14 1000m in 3:02. 

Enya approaches the bell in the 800m.

Enya Haigney showed signs of tiredness from the previous evening’s action in Carrickmore as she faded in the closing stages of a graded 800m.

DTC club chairman was also there to present the prize for his company’s E & I Engineering-sponsored mile.  There was no sub-four clocking but no-one complained after an enthralling afternoon of competition at the Irish Milers’ Club Belfast meeting.

Although Daniel Mooney was denied his first ever sub-four minute mile by a combination of a slow opening lap and breezy conditions, the Letterkenny athlete treated the appreciative crowd were treated to an impressive display of front running.

Mooney was paced through the opening circuit in a slow 62 seconds. Although training partner Conor Bradley dug deep to drag him to the bell in 3:04, the magical three-something mark eluded the game Donegal man who eventually crossed the line in 4:06.88.

The expected challenge from Dan Tanui never materialised as the Kenyan, who was second in this year’s Belfast City Marathon, faded to third on the final lap. Lagan Valley’s Conall Kirk finished strongly to claim the runner-up spot in 4:14.65 to Tanui’s 4:17.07.

DTC’s five-time Paralympic sprint champion Jason Smyth was due to compete at the meeting but he had more serious but then joyful matters on his mind as his wife Elise gave birth to their second child.  That more than made up for the disappointment later in the day when his beloved Liverpool FC lost out in the final of the Champions League to the nasty Real Madrid.

Elsewhere Adam Kirk-Smith cemented his claim to a place at this year’s European Championships when he clocked a great early season time of 8:44.98 in Oordegem, Belgium.  The London-based athlete may compete again in Huelva, Spain on June 8.

And finally, a fond farewell to Conán McCaughey who is now domiciled in Belfast and likely to be for some time.  He has wisely decided to join a club closer to his new home and he goes with our best wishes for both his work and his running careers.  He will be remembered as  “our little tiger” for his tenacious approach to racing and remain close to our hearts.  Our loss is the gain of North Belfast Harriers – we hope they appreciate him!


Adam Kirk-Smith became the second DTC athlete of the weekend to win on the worldl stage when he  triumphed in the 3000m steeplechase  at the Loughborough International in the English Midlands. 

Adam stretches out the lead.

Earlier Jason Smyth had won over 150m at the GreatCity Games in Manchester (see previous post).

Enya Haigney was the top DTC performer at the Ulster Schools taking bronze medals in both the 400m and 800m in the Senior Girls age group.

Enya (left) in the 800m.

Kayla McLaughlin also performed well to make the finals of both the Intermediate Girls’ 300m and 300m hurdles. Kayla also ran in the  heats and final of the  4 x 100m for her school St. Cecilia’s to complete a very busy afternoon for the talented 15-year-old.

Dan Haigney, Tomás Haigney, Sé Heaney and Dylan Doherty also acquitted themselves well at this level.

Jason Smyth Caps Excellent Week for DTC

18 May 2018

Northern Ireland athletes Leon Reid and Jason Smyth both clinched victories over the rarely-run 150 metres at the Great CityGames in Manchester on Friday evening.

Jason Smyth

Paralympic great Smyth clocked 15.82 seconds to take an emphatic victory in the T13 race.  Five-time Paralympics gold medallist Jason Smyth finished ahead of Zak Skinner

Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Reid produced a strong finish to win his race in 15.52 as he held off Dutch athlete Solomon Bockarie by 0.05 seconds.

“I fear no one at the moment,” said Reid, 24, after his win. “I kept my form well at the end of the race which is what I’ve been doing.”

In April, Reid earned Northern Ireland’s first Commonwealth Games athletics medal since 1990 when he was promoted to 200m bronze after England’s Zharnel Hughes was disqualified for a lane infringement after crossing the line first.

English-born Reid is hoping to be given clearance by the IAAF to switch international allegiance so that he will be able to compete for Ireland at this summer’s European Championships in Berlin.

Five-time Paralympics gold medallist Smyth’s time left him 0.91 ahead of Britain’s Zak Skinner.

17 May 2018

Two DTC athletes  were in action at Wilkie’s Run  with Robert Bigger (31:49)  taking first prize in the M60 category while Cathal McLaughlin just missed out on the M50 prize with a 28:56 timing.

15 May 2018

Cathal McLaughlin was the winner of the M50 age group at the Inter-Firms Race in Letterkenny.  It was a memorable evening for the DTC chairman with his E & I Engineering squad winning the team competition.

13 May 2018

Marina approaching the 12 mile mark.

Marina Murphy took an excellent second place in the Strabane-Lifford  Half Marathon in  85:23.  Michael Murphy suffered a foot injury after five kilometres but manfully struggled on to finish an excellent  third in the M40 age group with a 82:57 mark.

Irish New Report

Strabane was buzzing  as over 1,000 runners hit the roads for the annual Strabane-Lifford Half Marathon that followed a route taking in both sides of the Tyrone and Donegal border.  Gerard Gallagher and local woman Claire McGuigan dominated the men’s and women’s respectively while the solitary entrant Karol Doherty ploughed a lonely furrow for a hard-earned victory in the wheelchair race.

Michael Murphy is prominent early on along side eventual winner Gerard Gallagher.

Gallagher was among the first to show at the front as the field got under way in bright but cool conditions from Meeting House Street in Strabane. The Finn Valley runner was never subsequently headed as he drove on for a convincing victory in 73 minutes and 41 seconds.

Gallagher eventually came home over a minute and a half clear of Letterkenny’s Ciaran McGonagle who had also completed the Belfast City Marathon just a few days earlier. Shercock’s James Treanor looked as though he might snatch the runner-up spot late in the race but in the end had to settle for the bronze medal as the Rosses native dug deep into his reserves to hold on.

Claire McGuigan adopted similar tactics in the women’s race to Gallagher and looked strong throughout as she saw off the challenge of Derry Track Club’s Marina Murphy by over three minutes with an impressive 82:08 mark. Murphy had an even bigger margin of seven minutes over a distant but deserved third placer Denise Ward from the Foyle Valley club in Derry.

Deputy Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor John Boyle, congratulated the tired participants at the finish line, before presenting the prizes.

“Well done to everyone who took part in this year’s Strabane Lifford Half Marathon – and the crowds of enthusiastic well-wishers who lined the route to give encouragement to the runners” he said.  “Although the main winners were local, this year’s race has attracted entrants from all over the island of Ireland as well as internationally – and for a high proportion of runners taking part it was their first half marathon this year, which was heartening to see.”

Earlier Gerard Gallagher had kicked off a busy weekend programme by winning one of three races on Friday night. Just two seconds separated him from Derry Track Club’s Paul Barbour in Aghyaran with a 17:05 timing. Barbour’s clubmate Michelle Donnelly was first woman in 20:27.


DTC Take Fifth in Belfast Relay

Kenyan athletes dominated the 37th and possibly last ever DeepRiver Rock Belfast City Marathon taking the top two spots in the men’s race as well as winning the battle for the women’s crown.

Held in perfect running conditions, Kenyan Eric Koech crossed the finish line in Ormeau Park with a 2:18:19 timing. That dashed Joel Kipsang Kositany’s hopes of a fourth victory in the race after taking the honours in 2013, 2014 and 2016. The pair had run shoulder to shoulder for most of the trip but Koech, second in 2016, proved the stronger as his compatriot faded to third in the later stages.

Kositany’s demise allowed team mate Dan Tanui, runner-up 12 months earlier, to come through for second and complete a 1-2 for the athletes, managed by local coach Ciaran Collins, who have been prominent in road races throughout Ireland and beyond in the past few years.

“I came here well prepared, I trained for seven months,” said Koech, who finished second in 2016. “In 2016 I was unlucky and last year I didn’t race because I was injured so I started training in November, knowing I was coming here.”

Olympic walker Colin Griffin was fifth in 2:29:15 while Bristol & West athlete Jarlath McKenna took sixth for the third consecutive year in 2:30:45 to claim the prize for first Northern Ireland finisher.

Caroline Kepchirchir claimed the women’s title in 2:41:23 but only after overcoming stern opposition from defending champion and local favourite Laura Graham.  The 32-year-old Kilkeel woman ran knowing she could be risking the wrath of the Irish selectors who named her only ten days earlier in the team to represent Ireland in the marathon at the European Championships this August.

Graham kept her Kenyan rival in sight until after the 20-mile mark when Kechirchir, encouraged by Collins on a bike at her side, slipped away to win by over two minutes.  The Mourne Runner finished in 2:43:33, over six minutes outside of her personal best recorded in Berlin last September.

“I felt really good today,” said Graham who is the current Irish marathon champion. “The conditions were perfect. It started to get a wee bit warmer as the race went on but you just have to adjust and get on with it.  I’m happy with how it went. The crowds were unreal, the support was enough to make me cry!”

Upwards of 3000 started the full 26.2 mile distance while ancillary events took participation numbers up to around 17,000 runners, making it the largest mass event of its kind in Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile the organisers of the Belfast City Marathon warned that it could be the last time the event is staged because of new legislation.  Committee chairman, David Seaton, said they been informed that in future they may have to pay for policing which would make the event unviable from a financial viewpoint.

“The new road legislation means we’re going to have pay for policing costs among other things,” Seaton told the BBC.  “I’m told that an officer is charged out at £65 an hour and on bank holiday Monday it’s twice that. That’s £130.

“They are usually on duty for seven to eight hours so that’s about a thousand pounds each.  Last year we had about 120 officers, that’s £120,000. We couldn’t take that hit. That would be the end of the marathon,” Seaton concluded.

The race had been due to have a facelift in 2019 with a move to a Sunday and new course taking out the tough outward section along the Antrim Road. All that may now be hypothetical unless some accommodation can be reached with the Northern Ireland Police Service.

Derry Track Club’s relay team took fifth overall, third mixed team.  Conán McCaughey ran really well to head the entire field at the end of the first leg. That allowed Marina Murphy the honour of leading the race through the centre of Belfast.  

Conán McCaughey

Good follow-up work from Paul Barbour, on the tough Antrim Road leg, Cathal McLaughlin and Michael Murphy ensured a top five finish for the DTC team on the first occasion we have been represented in this race. 


Belfast City Marathon

Men: 1 Eric Koech KEN/Project Africa 2:18:19, 2 Dan Tanui KEN/Project Africa 2:20:19, 3        Joel Kositany KEN 2:23:40, 4 Eoin         Callaghan 2:27:22, 5 Colin Griffin Ballinamore AC 2:29:15, 6 Jarlath McKenna Bristol West AC 2:30:45, 7 Lawrence O’Hara 2:35:19, 8 Ciaran McGonagle Rosses AC 2:38:52, 9 Gary   Henderson Armagh AC 2:41:24, 12 John Craig Victoria Park Connswater AC         02:44:25.

Women: 1  Caroline Jepchirchir KEN/Project Africa 2:41:23, 2 Laura Graham Mourne Runners       2:43:33, 3  Christina Bogomiakova UKR 2:46:43,  4 Radka Churnova CZR 2:52:38, 5 Karen Alexander 2:54:31, 6 Louise Smith North Belfast Harriers 2:57:36, 7 Khadija El Larbi MOR  3:04:10, 8  Gerrie Short Beechmount Harriers 3:04:25, 9 Tanya Smith County Antrim Harriers 3:05:41


13 April 2018

Conor (Big Dog) McIlveen Opens the Season in Impressive Style

Conor (Big Dawg) McIlveen opened his outdoor season in style with a personal best 400m at the Mary Peters Track in Belfast.  Competing as a guest in the Irish Universities’ championships, Conor scorched to a 57.86 seconds timing to take over a second off his personal best.

The mark also placed him top of the T38 rankings for the distance with the countdown on now to the European Paralympic Championships in Berlin this August.

“This was a fitting reward for Conor who has worked hard over the winter,” said DTC coach Malcolm McCausland. “There are still a few things we can look at but on the evidence of this run I can see a lot more improvement in Conor.”