Runner Profile: Rachel Gibson (by Lee Maginnis)
Rachel Gibson began her running career as a twelve year old schoolgirl and joined City of Lisburn AC the following year. Back then she still had time to take part in swimming and tennis too, but that would soon change.
Fast forward through the years and now it is all about running, apart from the odd circuit session with her friend, Sarah Lindsay. Rachel is still in school, but now, the keen baker is at the front of the classroom, as a Home Economics teacher. The old club vest has also changed, she now competes in the blue and yellow of North Down AC. Rachel runs throughout the year, on a variety of surfaces, over a wide range of distances, and invariably; to a very high standard! Her mother provides support at virtually every race, often as a spectator, but she also takes part in the odd 5K too!
Rachel showed great potential from a young age and this ability, coupled with her obvious love of the sport, has helped her to achieve great things. She was a bronze medallist with the Junior Irish Schools team. Rachel also twice won the Ulster Schools 800m and was Irish U18 800m champion. She went on to be selected for the Irish Universities team and then progressed to representing Northern Ireland in various senior teams.
A middle distance specialist, Rachel has run superb times of 2:09 for 800m and 4:27 for 1500m. Her other personal bests include 59.3 – 400m, 17:13 – 5K, and 36:57 – 10K. She loves to compete in the Northern Ireland Senior Championships and has so far struck gold twice, in the 800m in 2015 and the 1500m in 2016. She has also finished fourth in two Irish Senior track Championships! In the Northern Ireland Senior Cross Country Championships, Rachel has come away with an individual silver medal twice and won team gold (with North Down AC ladies) once. She was also part of the North Down AC ladies team that brought back silver medals from the Irish Road Relay Championships.
Rachel regards her training as quality based rather than quantity and is known to prefer the shorter and faster sessions. She may also have gained somewhat of a reputation for being less than enthusiastic when a session begins with a tempo run! Rachel is quick to pay tribute to the expertise and tireless service provided by her coach of seven years, Francis Marsh. If he passes on his secrets of longevity, Rachel could be at the top for many years to come!
Rachel has an interesting perspective on her success over such a range of distances. She is part of a great ladies team at North Down AC and therefore does not spend the year focussed on one event. The team is competing for honours on many fronts; on the road, in relays, on the track and in cross country. While cross country would certainly not be Rachel’s favourite surface (not that you could tell from watching her race), she knows that it is vital in helping build up her strength during the winter.
Away from running and Rachel has a great interest in food and baking. She enjoys meals out and spending the odd evening catching up with friends.
If she had time to cook dinner, Sonia O’Sullivan and Kelly Holmes might be right at the top of the guest list. Rachel admires the performances of Sonia, a multiple Irish record breaker. And she remembers clearly the euphoria as Kelly Holmes finally struck Olympic gold in Athens 2004, with her amazing 800m/1500m double!
And it looks like Rachel is set to continue racking up her own records and achievements. She remains hungry for success and as keen as ever to represent both club and country. And she continues to improve.