Karol describes the thrill of
CARNDONAGH athlete Karol
Doherty is one of hundreds of athletes from the North
West and further afield who have been training
tirelessly for the Tesco Waterside Half Marathon later
As a young boy he was involved with cross-country clubs,
which in turn led him to be a regular participant in the
running circuit. By the time he was a young man Karol
was competing on an almost weekly basis, travelling
across the country to take part in races. In December
2003 Karol won an award for completing all five of the
Bobby Mullan 5K races that had taken place that season.
But only a few months after
competing in the Bobby Mullan races, tragedy struck and
Karol found himself in a wheelchair. His life had been
completely transformed but where many would have
faltered and resigned themselves to a list of lost
opportunities Karol's absolute passion for sport ensured
that one aspect of his life did not change.
" I didn't take up racing for some kind of therapy, I
didn't need to. I had already discovered how amazing
this sport is. I simply continued to do something I
love, something which I have always devoted a large part
of my life to and as before the thrill of being in a
race is as great as ever."
While the emotional ups and downs of racing stayed the
same for Karol, the physical challenges have changed
completely. When asked if he would describe himself as a
wheelchair athlete he says no, that he
is just an athlete and
refers to the Irish Wheelchair Association director of
sport Mairead Farquharson who states that wheelchair
racing is now recognised as one of the toughest
competitive sports an athlete can participate in.
"The focus of my training has shifted to the upper body
so I divide my time between the gym and my racing bike.
Competing in races is definitely more demanding like
this, it's incredibly tough to go the distance, it's one
hell of a long time to go round."
Despite this Karol is still a very successful
competitor. He participated in two half marathons within
one week last year and came first in one of them with
was the National Half Marathon held in Ballybofey, Co.
Before his accident Karol
had never taken part in a marathon although he always
planned to eventually. Since then he has raced in the
Dublin, and Belfast marathons, he has also compete in
the half marathons of Derry, Omagh, Strabane, Lisburn
and has loved the experience, although he found that the
Belfast course was not very wheelchair friendly with
much of the route being uphill. In stark contrast both
Dublin and Derry have great routes and do attract
wheelchair racers. He explains: "It's not about winning,
although of course there is an element of competition
that gears everyone up on the day. There is also a great
social element, everyone gets to know each other and
enjoys meeting up at various races, it has always been
Karol's family have also been so moved by his
appreciation of the sport that both his parents ran in
the Waterside Half Marathon with him last year. They
both had a love for running but neither had attempted a
race this length. Their achievement wasn't wasted on
Karol who was delighted they took part and proud of what
"A half marathon is such an achievement for anyone, if
you can do this, you can do anything, nothing can hold
you back - that goes for anyone."
Karol will join hundreds of
other athletes when takes part in the marathon on
Saturday, September 13. For more information on this
race or any of the other races taking place on the day
log on to
www.derrycity.gov.uk/halfmarathon or contact
Gerry Lynch at Derry City Council on 048 7136 5151.