Tuesday 31 March 2015



Derry City Track Club's Cathal McLaughlin ran one of the best races of his career to grab a silver medal in the European Masters' Indoor Athletics Championships in Torun, Poland.  The 47-year-old company director was one of three DCTC athletes in action at the championships with the trio all acquitting themselves with credit against the cream of the continent.

McLaughlin went into the M45 1500m final with his confidence high after winning the Irish title for the third consecutive year.  He sat in the chasing back during the opening laps while home favourite Murawski carved out a lead at the front.  The English favourite Adrian Haines, who had beaten McLaughlin to the silver medal in the Worlds 12 months earlier, soon fell off the pace leaving Dutchman Joosse to head the pursuit of runaway Pole.  It was only with just over 100 metres left that McLaughlin turned on the afterburners to accelerate past Joosse and sprint into the runner-up spot in a season's best of 4:14.24.

The European silver medal capped a fine indoor campaign in which he won Connaught, Leinster and Irish titles.  He also finished second in the British championships over 800m, missing out on the gold medal only in the final few metres.  He has also excelled on the cross country representing Northern Ireland in the British & Irish Cross Country Championships in Nottingham as well as clocking an impressive 16:30 on the roads for 5K. 

It may disconcert slower runners, who regularly cover in excess of two hours on training runs, to know that all this is achieved on less than 30 miles per week and with no run longer than one hour!
Adrian Boyle exceeded all expectations with a sixth place finish in the M35 800m.  The Ballykelly resident ran a strong heat to qualify for the final as one of the fastest losers in 2:03.31.  Even better was to follow in the final with Boyle following the strong early pace to finish up sixth in a personal best 2:02.16.  The DCTC man can now concentrate on breaking two minutes for the distance when the outdoor season kicks off later this month.

Malcolm McCausland was disappointed to arrive in Torun to find out that the cross country course included 300 metres of tarmac meaning that he had to run his race in trainers.  Athletes from other countries had been made aware of this before their arrival.  Nevertheless he finished a respectable 14th and would have gained a team bronze medal but for an administrative error by the Irish team management.

Meanwhile new recruit to Derry City Track Club Chris Millar had the honour of being the first man across the line in the first Limavady parkrun.  Millar played the waiting game to perfection, allowing others to do the pacemaking before hitting the front on the final lap to cross the line in a personal best 18:23.  DCTC mentors have been impressed by Millar and already see him as a potential key member of next winter’s cross country squad.

Monday 23 March 2015


The Dental Solutions 5K Classic promises to have an international flavour with the organizers confirming yesterday that two Kenyan athletes would be taking part in the race.  Derry City Track Club are hosting the event in Eglinton on April 10 and with just over two weeks to go it is shaping up to one of the top races in the northwest this year.


The Kenyans are Vincent Kiprotich who won the Larne Half Marathon last weekend and Selinah Kangogo, winner of Jimmy’s 10K in Downpatrick ten days ago. The pair are here as part of the Project Africa Athletics scheme run by Omagh man Ciarán Collins who is helping disadvantaged athletes from Kenya and Uganda to come to Ireland in order to further their running careers.

“We’re delighted to have signed up two athletes of top quality for our race,” said DCTC chairman Cathal McLaughlin.  “This is our first venture into race organisation and we are anxious to give the running public a product which will bring them back year after year. We’ve electric timing for all finishers and if anyone runs a personal best they can be certain that the race is the correct distance because it will be certified.

“Already entries are flooding in and race capacity may be filled well in advance of the race date, 11th April.  I would advise anyone interested in running to enter immediately on the Athletics NI website. Thanks to generous sponsorship, we have personalised gymsacks containing an engraved commemorative medal plus other goodies for all finishers.”

The senior races will be preceded by races for juveniles from U8 up to U15 years (on 1 January 2015).  Entries will be accepted on the night and cost just £1.  All finishers will receive a medal with the distances going from 600m to 1000m.

Derry City Track Club is also hosting a workshop with Ciarán Collins and the Kenyans the previous evening at Templemore Sports Complex. An informal training session will be followed by a presentation by Collins showing the living conditions of athletes and their training facilities in the Rift Valley.    

Tuesday 17 March 2015



Four gold, one silver and one bronze was the impressive return by the four Derry City Track Club athletes from the Irish Masters’ Indoor Athletics Championships in Athlone.  It was another busy weekend for Derry City athletes with successes indoors and on the roads while the juveniles wound up their cross country season at the Antrim International.

Star of the weekend was undoubtedly Tim Shiels who notched up an impressive double in Athlone.  Just seven days after winning the British 800m title, the Omagh-based athlete was back on track to defend his Irish title at the same distance. After leading all the way in London, the 39-year-old changed his tactics on this occasion to wait until the final straight before powering through for the gold medal in 2:01.38.

However, Pastor Tim was not content to rest on his laurels and was back on the track less than an hour later.  After some problems with his blocks before the race, Shiels made a steady, if not spectacular, start to the 400m and trailed by five metres in third place at the halfway point. A stunning injection of speed down the backstraight for the last time saw the long-striding DCTC man hit the front off the final bend before going on to complete an impressive double in a time of 54.50 seconds.

Robert Bigger started as hot favourite for the M55 800m after posting the fastest time in the UK and Ireland recently but found himself at the front too early in the race and lost out on the gold medal in the final 50 metres.  The Aghadowey man was disappointed but channelled his frustration into the 1500m later in the afternoon.  On this occasion, he waited until the final bend before sprinting clear to lift the gold medal.

Cathal McLaughlin had also been in action at the British championships but had spent the week afterwards in the United States on business. He landed back in Dublin on Saturday and made his way to Athlone by bus on Sunday morning.  Undaunted by the unorthodox preparation, he turned in a perfect display of tactics before hitting the front late in the race to claim the gold medal in the M45 1500m for the third consecutive year.

Another man with a less than satisfactory lead up to the championships was Adrian Boyle who travelled down to Athlone on the day of the race.  Boyle is a diabetic and life became further complicated for him when he was unable to control a climbing level of sugar in his blood.  Nevertheless the DCTC man went out and ran a very composed race to take third place in the M35 1500m with a creditable 4:20.76 clocking.


Earlier Darragh Crossan had re-written his best time when taking runner-up spot in the Cara 10K in Bundoran.  Crossan went through halfway in 17:40 but slowed in the hilly second half of the race to cross the line in 36:40.  The previous night Gary McGee and Malcolm McCausland had taken 4th and 6th in the Cara 5K, winning the M40 and M60 categories respectively.

Lily Tourish was the best of the DCTC juveniles who took part in the under age races at the Antrim International Cross Country.  Running against girls up to two years older than her, the Eglinton girl did well to take eighth behind some much more experience athletes.  There were tough baptisms for Ben Mellon and Bronagh Downey but both will gain from the experience.

Wednesday 11 March 2015



Tim shows off his gold medal 

If a certain Danish lager company did weekends, they could not have organised a better one for Derry City Track Club. A champion and runner up at the British Masters’ Indoor Championships, a victory in the premier Donegal road race of the weekend, a good performance at the Irish Universities Cross Country and the coach even managed a podium place at the Valley 5K Trail Challenge.

Tim Shiels wrote another chapter in a short but brilliant career to date when he scored a gun to tape victory in the 800m at the British Masters’ Indoor Championships in Lee Valley.  But the Omagh-based pastor nearly did not compete after feeling ill on his arrival in London and it was very much a last minute decision to don his racing spikes. However, the 39-year-old showed no sign of any sickness when he struck the front from the gun in the M35 800m and led all the way to win in a more than creditable 2:03.53.

“I felt totally weak on the night before the race but after talking to my coach [Malcolm McCausland], we decided that I would warm up and see how I felt before making a decision on whether to run or not,” explained Shiels. “In the end I decided I would give it a go.  I felt really challenged on the second lap but I was able to build up a lead and hold on comfortably to the finish.  In fact I felt I had loads in hand at the end.”

Shiels who is Irish champion in his age group over 800m both indoors and outdoors will now complete his recovery this week in advance of defending his indoor title this Sunday in Athlone.  Last year he had the crowd on its feet as he came from four metres back to snatch victory on the line after a dramatic lunge at the tape.  The result had to be decided by the photo finish equipment and it was only after an anxious wait that the DCTC athlete was given the decision by a mere four-hundredths of a second.  His time on that occasion was 2:01.97 which no doubt he will hoping to better on the fast Athlone Institute track facility this Sunday.
Darragh receives his prize at Milford
Earlier Cathal McLaughlin was bitterly disappointed to have the gold medal snatched from his grasp at the death in the M45 1500m.  McLaughlin had run the perfect tactical race before taking the lead on the penultimate lap.  He quickened the pace on the final circuit and still had the advantage as he entered the short homestraight. Inexplicably his concentration waned and his pace slackened, allowing Enfield & Haringey athlete John Scott to take the title in 4:20.92 with the McLaughlin having to be content with the silver medal in 4:21.49. 

Closer to home and Darragh Crossan returned to what is rapidly becoming a happy hunting ground for him in north Donegal. Last autumn the Raphoe man, who now lives off the Crescent Link, scored his first victory on the Donegal Grand Prix circuit when he won the Ards 5K Trail Race.  On Saturday, he travelled to the Milford 5K and was rewarded with an emphatic win in 17 minutes and 10 seconds. After running with the pack for the opening 400m, Crossan decided he did not like the company and went away to win by over half a minute. Clubmate Shaun Deery posted a new personal best of 18:02 in sixth place, fitting reward for the work the art teacher has put in over the last 12 months.
Valley Trail Challenge 5K

Meanwhile Hannah McGowan continued to impress in Dublin City University colours at the Irish Universities’ Cross Country Championships at Clongowes Wood College in Kildare.  The Eglinton young woman was a member of the crack DCU squad that finished level with rivals University College Cork but lost out on the gold medals because the Cork fourth scorer finished in front of her DCU counterpart.  Hannah finished just behind former Ulster Schools champion Laura Fitzpatrick in 39th spot to round off her cross country season before concentrating on her preparation for the Irish Universities’ track and field championships in Belfast next month..

However, there was a further twist in the weekend’s tale when DCTC coach Malcolm McCausland made his way to Ness Woods on the fringes of Drumahoe for the second race in the Valley 5K Trail Challenge Series.  McCausland was back in eighth after a cautious start over the opening kilometre of the tough, and at times treacherous circuit, but clawed his way up to third at the finish line.  Winner of the race was Springwell’s Chris Millar with his clubmate Aiden Devine filling runner-up spot.

Monday 9 March 2015



L-R: Gary McGee (DCTC Coach), Chairman DCTC Cathal McLaughlin, Diana Casalins (Dental Solutions), Jason Smyth, Ciarán Gillan (Dental Solutions) and Adrian Boyle (DCTC Secretary)
Derry City Track Club sprinter Jason Smyth took time out this week from his preparations for the upcoming summer track season to launch his club’s Dental Solutions 5K Classic road race.  The two-time double Paralympic gold medallist flew home from his London base to put his shoulder to the wheel for the club’s inaugural promotion on Friday evening, April 10.
“Whilst I won’t be running myself, I see this is an important step forward for us as a club,” said the reigning NI 100m champion. “We were only formed last year but since then we have made huge steps forward, especially our masters’ section which must be as good as any other club in the country on the track.  Although I’m in London most of the time, I can see from the local papers that we are also starting to develop some very talented youngsters and, for me, that should be what an athletics club is all about.”
The race will offer prizes to the first three men and women across the finish line as well as all the category winners.  Every finisher will also receive a goody bag containing, among other things, a commemorative medal of the event. And there will also be a trophy for the club/running group that has the most finishers.  The course will be certificated for the correct distance with electronic timing for every finisher.  Races for juveniles will precede the main event.  The U16s will run one kilometre with descending distances down to 500m for P6/P7 pupils.
The race is also the first to be sponsored by Dental Solutions although its proprietor Ciarán Gillan is no stranger to sport.  He is the holder of an Ulster Minor Club Championship medal and his father, Séamus, held the post of chairman at Slaughtneil GAC until relatively recently.
“We think this race is a good fit for what Dental Solutions stands for,” said Gillan.  “There never have been more people out on the streets and roads looking to improve their health than at present. We’d like to highlight that dental health is equally important and what a better way to do this, especially with a high profile athlete like Jason Smyth involved in promoting the event.”

On-line entry is currently open for the race at  As entries may be limited to the first 300, it is advisable to register straightaway.