The Middle Distance Squad


Coach: Mike Dunphy coaches the Middle Distance Squad, for committed runners from age 10. Mike is a national level coach who coached former BUCS 5,000m and cross-country champion Hannah Walker to her first England vest. Mike’s group, now comprising some 40 members, has had great success at recent track and cross-country events: his squad won six of the eight races at the 2014 District Cross Country Championships and took 12 of the 24 podium spots!

In 2017, Mike coached Year 10 athlete Kristian Imroth to first place in the England National Cross Country Championships – one of a number of standout results achieved over the season. As a team, the Middle Distance squad finished fifth out of 14 clubs in the elite division of the 2016-17 Chiltern League cross country series – one of the most competitive leagues in the country.

Kristian Imroth breaking the tape at the 2017 England National XC Championships

Mike started running at the age of 12, but it took four years before success came his way. In 1959 he was the North London Grammar Schools champion at 1 mile, and he finished 4th in the same event at the South of England U17 Championships. In 1960 he finished 2nd in the Surrey Cross-Country (CC) Championships, 8th in the South of England CC Championships (leading his club to first place in the team race), and 40th in the National CC Championships. During the summer he specialised in the 1,500m steeplechase, achieving his best time of 4:31.5 when finishing 2nd in the Surrey Championships.

Mike in full stride at the Brighton Front Relay in 1966

From 1963-1966 Mike went to Borough Road College (BRC), – which in recent years has been absorbed into Brunel University – to train as a PE teacher. During this period BRC always ranked in the top three amongst British colleges and universities, and Mike was consistently the second best runner in the team. In 1964 he finished 5th in the South of England CC Championships, and represented Surrey in the Inter-Counties CC Championships. The following year he achieved career best times over 880 yards (804.67m) and 1 mile (1,609.34m) of 1:58.9 and 4:16.0 respectively, and in 1966 he recorded a time of 25:10 in a 5 miles road race.

Although training in later years had to be much reduced because of injuries, in 1967 he finished 17th in the Irish Senior CC Championships and 5th in the 2 miles event at the South of England Championships; in 1969/1970 he achieved times of 3:59, 8:34 and 14:52 over 1,500m, 3,000m, and 5,000m respectively.

In 1971 Mike made the transition to coaching and two years later passed the exam for Senior Coach (now called a UKA level 4 Coach) which qualified him to coach athletes up to International level. Mike has coached numerous national champions and international athletes over the years, but since joining Dacorum & Tring AC he has worked mainly with athletes in the younger age groups, and in 2009 he won the Dacorum Community Coach of the Year award.

To read Mike Dunphy’s The Endurance Pathway for Young Runners, click here

Mike & kids

Mike with young squad members at a North West London XC league fixture in 2014

In recognition of the superb results achieved by his young squad in cross country and on the track in recent years, Mike won the “Coach of the Year” award at the 2016 Dacorum & Tring AC awards ceremony. Earlier in the year, Mike was named runner-up in the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award category at the 2015-16 Dacorum Sports Awards, and the achievements of the Middle Distance group were a key factor in Dacorum & Tring AC’s triumphs in Club of the Year awards at the 2015 Dacorum Sports Awards and the county-wide Hertfordshire Sports Awards.