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. 

RESULTS

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