21 October 2018

Sean Tobin and Shona Heaslip scored significant victories at yesterday’s Autumn International Cross Country Classic at the National Sports Campus in Abbotstown, north Dublin. In mild and dry conditions both marked themselves out as potential top ten finishers as the countdown starts to the European Cross Championships in December.

Gideon along with top Junior Darragh McElhinney.

DTC’s Gideon Kimosop took fourth while Adam Kirk Smith also impressed with a close-up seventh in a top class field.  The pair had been second and third respectively in 2017 but in a much weaker field.

Tobin distanced himself from the field as early as the second lap of the 7.5 kilometre race and after the it was just a question of how great would be his winning margin.  In the end the University of Mississippi graduate crossed the finish line with a 36 second buffer over runner-up Kevin Dooney with his Clonmel club mate Kevin Maunsell taking third another four seconds back in third.

Adam finished strongly for seventh.

Derry-based Kenyan Gideon Kimosop took fourth with his DTC colleague Adam Kirk-Smith showing a return to form in seventh. Glaslough Harrier Conor Duffy will also be pleased with a close-up 11th but it may be back to the drawing board for St. Malachy’s Ben Branagh who slipped to 18th after being among the leaders early on.

Shona Heaslip was equally dominant in the women’s race over six kilometres. The Kerry woman took the initiative from the gun and although Scotland’s Mairi MacLennan closed the margin late on to four seconds she was never going to deny the An Riocht athlete here second consecutive win in the event.

Armagh AC’s Fionnuala Ross had probably her best ever race over the country to take third just another 10 seconds back to put herself in contention for a place on the team for the Euros. Letterkenny’s Nakita Burke (17th) and North Down’s Rachel Gibson (20th) both sneaked into top 20 spots. Pre-race favourite Emma Mitchell was a late withdrawal.

North Down’s Craig McMeechan was the first northerner in the Junior (U20) Men’s race race, taking fifth, with City of Derry’s Fintan Stewart (10th) and Newcastle’s Patrick McNiff also catching the eye. Tirconnaill’s Mia McCalmont also impressed with an unexpected second in the Junior Women’s race.


The organisers Run 4 Wales have promised a full review will take place but they were “100% satisfied” with the medical plan in place at last weekend’s Cardiff Half Marathon (7 October 2018).  Ben McDonald, 25, from Glamorgan and Dean Fletcher, 32, from Exeter, went into cardiac arrest after crossing the finishing line. Both later died at the city’s University Hospital of Wales.

The runners head off along Chichester Street in the Belfast City Marathon – Do they know the risks?

It has been a bad year for deaths at running events. No less than four runners died at the Great North Run last month. The eldest of these, deputy headmaster Phil Lewis, 52, was running his 24th GNR, having only missed the first edition.

Earlier this year Stephen Heaney, 50, from Limavady died during the Belfast Marathon and Masterchef Matt Campbell was a fatality when close to the finish of the London Marathon in April.

It should be remembered that the man who inspired the modern event, Pheidippides, collapsed and died after running from Marathon to Athens to deliver news of the victory of the Greeks over the Persians. “Joy to you, we’ve won” he said before gasping his last breath.

A hemerodrome (professional running courier) by profession, Pheidippides was sent to Sparta to request help when the Persians landed at Marathon. He covered about 240 km (150 mi) in two days before running 40 km (25 miles) from the battlefield near Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory.

This is a common theme in that most of the deaths occur after the participant has finished or almost completed the race. Experts point out that even after crossing the finish line a lot of circulating adrenaline is still coursing through the body while blood starts to pool in the legs. Because the muscles are no longer contracting to push the blood back, this places an enormous strain on the heart.

The greater majority of deaths among younger runners is on account of cardiac arrest while in older runners it is due to heart disease or arteriosclerosis, a deterioration of the valves around the heart. Unfortunately, many heart problems especially in the right ventricle cannot be detected when the runner is at rest.

Anyone taking on a marathon should realise the physical demands of running 42.2 kilometres (26.2 miles).  At rest, the heart pumps approximately five litres of blood around the body every minute but this increases to 35 litres when running. The body can cope quite easily with this extra strain for short periods of time but when you get into two, three, four hours or more, the strain on the heart increases exponentially.

All too often when someone completes a six week couch to 5K programme, the first question is “when can I run a marathon?” To prepare adequately for a marathon should take at least a year of consistent training and racing shorter distances. Most people do not conform to this advice before making their debut at the marathon.

A Canadian study shows that running a marathon, even for professionals, causes damage to the heart although this self-heals with time. For this reason downtime of several weeks, if not months, is needed to allow the body to complete the repair process and let the immune system get back to normal. Turning out in a race the week following a marathon does not make you a hero –  probably a fool risking their health and possibly more!


Jason Smyth was part of a  quartet that set a new NI 4 x 100m record.

Three DTC athletes were recognised for their achievements at the Athletics NI Dinner in Belfast. Jason Smyth was part of a NI team that set a new 4 x 100m record, Adam Kirk-Smith was eighth in the Commonwealth Games Steeplechase and Conor McIlveen’s fourth at the T38 European Paralympic Champs in 2016 also belatedly received the credit it deserved.
Jacky Newton and her ANI coaching team are to be complimented on an excellent evening.


DTC’s Gideon Kimosop made it a second victory in as many years at the Bangor 10K which this year carried Northern Ireland & Ulster championships status. But the Kenyan did not have it all his own way with Commonwealth Games star Kevin Seaward pushing him all the way to the finish line as both men shared the same 30 minutes and 21 seconds timing.

Press Eye – Belfast – Northern Ireland – 29th September 2018 –
Gideon Kipsang Kimosop, left, beats Ken Seaward at the Northern Ireland and Ulster Championship 10K in Bangor in association with George Best Belfast City Airport.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Jessica Craig was the first woman home in 36:44 leading the host club North Down to the ladies’ team title while North Belfast Harriers were the leading men’s outfit. Almost 1000 runners took to the relatively tough seaside course in cold and breezy conditions.

Kimosop took the lead from the gun with a sizeable bunch, including Seaward, Ben Bradagh, defending champion Scott Rankin and Mark McKinstry, giving chase. But it was soon down to just the Kenyan and Seaward who finished fourth in this year’s Commonwealth Games marathon.

Kimisop visibly slowed the pace on a number of occasions to force Seaward into the lead but Loughborough-based teacher refused to take the bait. The two men were still locked in combat on the climb after the nine kilometre marker but it was the subsistence farmer from the Rift Valley who found a crucial acceleration on the homestraight to see him home by less than a metre.

City of Derry Spartan Declan Reed proved the best of the rest to take third in a very credible 30:57, with McKinstry (31:15) in fourth laying the foundations for a comfortable North Belfast team victory. Defending champion Scott Rankin (31:57) was fifth ahead of Ben Bradagh (32:01) in sixth.

Conan McCaughey (7th/32:04), John Black (9th/32:46) and Philip Goss (17th/33:56) completed the Stags scoring quartet with Victoria Park & Connswater and Acorns AC taking the silver and bronze team medals respectively.

Jessica Craig may have raced lightly this summer but she showed she had lost none of her sharpness as she saw off the challenge of North Belfast Harrier Gladys Ganiel (37:13) by almost half a minute. Dromore’s Laura Bickerstaff (38:03) filled the minor podium place ahead of Beechmount Harrier duo Sarah Lavery (38:55) and Gerrie Short (39:04), who showed no after-effects of her victory in the Belfast Half Marathon the previous weekend.

The other scorers in the victorious North Down women’s team were Sarah Grant (6th/39:17), Jodi Smith (9th/40:09) and Clair Quigley (17th/42:25). Beechmount and Ballydrain were second and third in a competitive women’s team competition.