COACHER TURNS PAIN-TAKER TO LIFT M60 TITLE
|Malcolm (Centre) Negotiates the Hill in Coleraine|
Derry City Track Club picked up its first championship title of the year but from an unexpected source. Coach Mal McCausland slipped on his racing spikes for the day last Saturday to lift an age group gold medal at the Northern Ireland & Ulster Masters’ Cross Country Championships in Coleraine.
Frequent snow flurries and treacherous underfoot conditions only helped to make the event an inspirational afternoon of distance running in adverse conditions. Well over 300 athletes overcame travel difficulties to make their way to the University of Ulster Playing Fields for the first serious cross-country fixture of 2015.
McCausland had entered the season last autumn ranked outside the top half dozen in the M60 age group in the province. However, a solid run in October saw him gain selection to represent Northern Ireland at the British & Irish Masters’ International Cross Country in Nottingham at the end of November. The DCTC coach surpassed all expectations when he was second NI finisher on a tough course in Wollaton Park.
The former international 800m runner had not run a cross country race since then until he lined up in Coleraine. However, he headed his age group race from the gun and, despite treacherous underfoot conditions, increased his lead throughout the 7.5 kilometre test. At the finish line he had built up a margin of over two minutes on his nearest adversary.
“It was hard work, especially with the soft going and snow shower, but it is satisfying to pick up an age group title for the club,” said McCausland. “I had been preparing for this since last August and I’m just delighted that it came right on the day. I’m now looking forward to getting back to local races and the parkruns on Saturday mornings without the pressure of championship running.”