Lynch Claims Victory In Carlingford

By Hill Runner

Race 5 of the NIMRA championship got underway today (Sunday 17) with the annual Flagstaff to Carlingford Fell race. Conditions on the morning didn’t look good with a thick blanket of fog hanging above Slieve Foye and by the time the bus dropped everybody off at the start line fog was covering most of the course. Armed with a map and compass on unfamiliar territory was sure to be a disaster for some, with many tales to be heard when everyone eventually made it back home! The route sees runners starting off on the side of Anglesey mountain, where a number of checkpoints lead you to the mast on top of Black mountain. From here you head towards the Long Woman’s Grave picking up another checkpoint at the stone cairn along the way. Crossing the road here, there is a steep climb up along the side of a forest before heading towards Slieve Foye. With so many route choices on this section it was sure to be interesting.

The Whistle Blew and Lynch Flew
At 11am race organisers Armagh AC got things underway. NAC’s Seamus Lynch, Glen Runners‘s Johny Steede and Newry AC’s Keiron Kelly broke away early on and made steady progress throughout as they made their way to Slieve Foye and the notoriously hard to find summit. With visibility down to about 60m it was hard to see anything or to know who was closing in on you. Eventually finding said summit it was a short run home to the finish line, where Lynch dropped down through the rough ground like a stone, leaving his two comrades behind to finish 1st in a time of 1:47:00 with Steede 2nd in 1:47:05 and Kelly 3rd in 1:47:52 and first v45 too.
Carrying out a recce of the route is always an advantage and having raced here many times before it helped NAC’s Pete Grant get an excellent 4th place in 2:06:37 and 1st v50 as he led a group of followers around including Newry AC’s Esther Dickson who finished 1st female in 2:08:35 and 8th overall. Having a bad day at the office was NAC’s David Hicks who had made a number of navigation errors after checkpoint 1, eventually catching up with a large group before pulling away on the Slieve Foye leg to claim a very lucky 10th place in 2:16:09. NAC’s final runner was Declan McElroy who finished 32nd in 2:50:39 making NAC the 2nd team overall to Newry AC.
A well organised catering team saw everyone fed and watered at the Slieve Foye centre where Armagh AC’s Brian Valelley proceeded with the prize giving.
The final Hill+Dale race takes place this coming Friday June 22, starting in Donard Park at 7.30 followed by prize giving in O’Hare’s bar.
The next NIMRA race is the Spelga Skyline on Saturday June 30th, online registration is now open via the NIMRA website.

Hill & Dale Series 2018 – Race 10

Hill and Dale Race 10 – Drinnahilly takes place on Friday 22nd June. The entry fee is £10 which will be donated to the following charities Shimna Valley Childrens Cancer, which supports children and families across N. Ireland and Newcastle Cross Community Scout Group Campsite Trim Trail Fund, used by Scouts from all of Ireland and further afield, throughout the year.

The series presentation will take place in O’Hares Bar Newcastle after the race.

The series prize for completing 6 races can be collected at registration.

Number Collection/Signing In
Number Collection/Signing In will open at 6:30pm and close at 7:15pm SHARP at the rear of O’Hares Bar in Donard Park.

Entries will NOT be accepted on the night if you did not register online. Online

Registration is NOW OPEN and will close on Tuesday 19th June at 9pm.

Please note that you only need to register ONCE for Series.

Hill & Dale Series 2018 – Race 9

Race 9 Results

Race 9 Photos by Paul Fegan

Hill and Dale Race 9 – The Meels

One of the most important jobs regarding the Meels, or indeed in any process, is the determination of direction the course is to take. In the case of the Meels, this is a decision of either a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction. It is akin to determining the date Good Friday should fall on, or establishing when Ramadan is to begin. Lunar charts are consulted, the sighting of the first bell heather flowers are noted, sheep bones placed in the Happy Valley are studied, the prophet is consulted. However, with a knowing look and nod Frank Cunningham at the previous weeks race will give a declaration. This year it was ‘Clockwise’ which led all subsequent discussion in hushed and quizzical tones going along the lines of ‘Does that mean it’s Meelmore or Meelbeg first?’.

From the start young Gonzalo showed both sides of his heritage. He led the group off like a nimble ‘Torero’ in a bull ring. However the other heritage he has is in 400m track running and this proved costly for him as the Hill and Dales are; longer than 400m, up and down hill, as well as not being on a flat track. After the summit of Meelmore, a tight group of four established. This continued through to the second summit of Meelbeg and at the line it finished up; Colm Murtagh, Timothy Johnston, David Hicks and Stephen Cunningham. Forty seconds separated the top four. Congratulations Colly on your well deserved first win this season. Mention must also go to Jonny Brattle of Willowfiled Harriers who, on his Hill and Dale debut, finished 9th and first placed Junior. Congratulations Jonny. Continue reading

Winners at The Mourne Way

By the Clonduff Cruiser

In what was an incredibly successful day for Newcastle AC, The Mourne Way Marathon 2018 on Saturday 9th June offered events in 10k, half marathon, marathon and ultra-marathon distances (almost as many events as Joe McCanns birthday celebration series 2018). The many Newcastle AC groupies who turned up to watch were treated to fine sunny weather, spectacular views and several winning displays for the club.

Ultra Marathon
The first event to kick off at 6am was the ultra-marathon in what is a gruelling test of endurance and stamina. Linda Rogan showed determination in abundance completing the 52 mile course from Kilbroney Park to Slieve Donard and BACK AGAIN in 11:10:16 and 4th Female finisher.  Continue reading

Hill and Dale Series 2018 – Race 8

Race 8 Results

Photos by Paul Fegan

A number of titles decided with 2 races to go.

The Loughshannagh Horseshoe – Hill & Dale Race 8 by Bogusboy

Loughshannagh is undoubtedly the most challenging of the Hill & Dale courses, characterised by steep climbs and sharp rough descents on entirely unpredictable ground. Whichever way it tackled, it presents a very good test of mountain running ability. This year, the challenge saw the race record entry of 208 take on the 4-peak loop in an anti-clockwise direction, summiting Carn first and Ott last. Unlike previous years, conditions were benign and the race directors were encouraging competitors to carry water and sun cream rather than the more traditional full body cover. This was a far cry from previous years when competitors were rounded up by sheep dogs such was the extent to which they were lost! The Prophet had arrived early, armed with three fish suppers that were devoured in minutes by the organising team at just after 5:30. It looked like a plague of locusts of Biblical proportion had descended on the car park! Then, it was down to business to get the marquee erected and the registration area established. Thankfully the ever reliable Cairns and Rice had arrived by this point and produced a range of power tools to ensure the job was done correctly. It was like Changing Rooms meets DIY SOS and there were infinitely more Chiefs than Indians. Needless to say the job was done and in typical fashion there was a call for tay as all stood back and admired their craft. The Bohemian ambiance was completed when Rice produced two plastic chairs from the back of the van, one of which was broken!


It is more efficient than ever

It was not long before the athletes rocked up to be processed using the new streamlined entry system. Despite the speed and accuracy of the process, many have complained that they no longer get lambasted by the entries management team in this new age of uber-efficiency. Many have called for a return to the ‘old days’ where pre-race insults and sledging were included in the entry fee! Needless to say, there was value for money this week as the race organisers hurled mild abuse at those who wanted it and those who did not! Continue reading

Newcastle AC well represented at 18th World Masters Mountain Running Championships Slovenia

At the end of May 2018 eight Northern Ireland runners left the Mournes behind and travelled to Slovenia to take part in the 18th World Masters Mountain Running Championships on Saturday 2 June 2018.

The race was held in the small village of Zelezniki on the banks of the river Sora with the finish on the summit of Altemaver at a height of 5400 feet in the Skofa Loka mountains. The temperature at the start of the race was in excess of 30 degrees, making the uphill race, which had steel cables to assist on the steeper sections,  even more challenging.

Newcastle AC’s Jim Patterson and defending World Over 70 Mountain Running Champion was first off to defend his title, 5 miles uphill lay in wait with over 2800 feet of climbing more than the height of Slieve Donard. Jim performed well in the oppressive heat and challenging terrain but was unable to hold of the young challenger from Italy Franco Valle, to finish in an excellent 2nd place. To add to his individual Silver, Jim also won Silver in the team event representing Great Britain.

Next to start from Newcastle AC’s was Deon McNeilly in the over 55 category also running the same shorter course as Jim finished in 9th position, Mourne Runners David Bell in the same over 55 race came home in 48th position.

The younger male runners compete on a longer course of 7 miles and 4000 feet of Climbing, similar height to Ben Nevis, Newcastle AC’s Eamon McCrickard was first to tackle the long course in the over 50 category, finishing in 24th position. Jack O’Hare started shortly after in the over 40 race, taking part in the championships for the first time, ran well to finish 25th.

Mourne Runners Willy John Brown finished 24th in the over 65 race. Two ladies took part from Northern Ireland both H&D regulars Lagan Valley’s Anne Sandford, finishing 11th in the over 50 race and Ballymena’s Gillian Wasson running very well in the over 40’s to take individual Bronze.

After the event there was time to enjoy Slovenia’s spectacular scenery and excellent hospitality, accommodation and food  was all to a high standard and excellent value, making it a very worth while holiday destination for any one looking for a destination a little different.

Report by Deon McNeilly