Ronan McVeigh’s Weekend Racing

Newcastle AC’s Ronan McVeigh finished runner up in the Knockevin 5k on Saturday 19th May in a time of 20 minutes 35 seconds on a very testing course – the new route with the hills around Bishops Brae really tested the runners with NI U17 runner, Ballydrain’s Kyle Ross holding off Ronan’s strong finish by 4 seconds.

Ronan raced again on Sunday 20th May  in the Warrenpoint 5k on the Bay and again took 2nd place behind winner and serial 5k runner Brendan Heaney from Armagh City Runners.

Lynch Wins At Annalong

Saturday 4th May saw race 3 of the NIMRA championship take place, the Annalong Horseshoe. Whilst Newcastle basked in sunshine it was a different story further round the coast. Thick fog hung low on the Irish Sea and up into the Annalong valley requiring runners to keep their map and compass to hand.

The race measures 13.1 mile in distance with over 1300 metres of ascent. Starting at Dunnywater the first checkpoint is on Chimney Rock Mountain. From the whistle a group of 4 runners containing NAC’s Seamus Lynch broke away and made a hasty ascent to the summit. Getting their navigation perfect in the fog saw them waste no time here and they quickly sped towards Slieve Commedagh summit for checkpoint 2, where conditions were perfect with clear skies and sunshine. A steep descent off Commedagh and on to checkpoint 3 takes runners onto the summit of Cove Mountain. The group of 4 were still together but things were about to change. Checkpoint 4 on the top of Slievelamagan is a short climb from Cove, but the descent on the other side requires a wee bit of local knowledge as to what is the quickest way down. Lynch seen his opportunity here and quickly turned it to his advantage, with one runner going off course and one starting to fatigue he put in a final effort on the long climb up Slieve Binnian for the 2nd time in as many days, as he also ran Thursday nights Hill and Dale race. A gap was forced between him and Glens Runners’ Jonny Steede, and after checkpoint 5 on Binnians summit began a 2 mile descent on treacherous terrain before the final mile along the road back to Dunnywater. Lynch maintained his lead to win in a time of 2:06:09 followed by Steede in 2:08:07. Continue reading

73rd Slieve Donard Race – Preview

The annual Slieve Donard race will start at 2.00pm on Saturday 12th May, on the main street in front of the Newcastle Centre as usual but this year will finish on football field in Donard Park making for a more relaxed environment for both competitors and spectators. The route also changes out on the mountain, with a checkpoint at the Saddle on the way the way to the 852-meter summit. On the descent, checkpoints must be visited at the Quarry and the first bridge on the Glen River.

Interestingly, whilst the Slieve Donard race route has changed over the years this is the first time the route will not be “out-and-back” for 20 years, earlier being via the Bloody Bridge. Of course, for a number of years there was free route choice on the open mountain; however, the majority of runners opted for the shortest and most direct route via the Black Stairs. This means that this year runners will not be able to gauge their race position against their peers coming off the summit and navigation skills may be required if the cloud is low.

A brief history

The first race was held in 1945 and won by S McAteer in a time of 1hr 59min. For a number of years the course went via the Bloody Bridge with a 2 mile run along the road to finish. James McKenny recorded 6 consecutive victories on this course between 1953 and 1958.

In the 1998 the decision was taken for safety reasons to revert to the up and down route starting at the Newcastle Centre and back to Donard Park (cutting out the long road section from the Bloody Bridge). However in 2002 a further route change took the finish back at Newcastle Centre to allow more spectators to witness the race. For many years Mike Short held the record with his 1977 run via the Bloody Bridge in 1 hour 4 min 14 seconds. In the 70’s & 80’s, the British Fell Championship format included all mountains in the British Isles hence the reason for more visitors, this later changed to 4 nominated races each year. In 2000 the British Championship included Slieve Donard as the N. Ireland race in the new format. The race was won by Ian Holmes in 50mins 10 seconds, the fastest ever up and down, although the start was on the Main Street the finish was in Donard Park, if Ian had run on to the Newcastle Centre, he would have taken less than 2mins 30 seconds and a sub 53 minute up and down time. The race is now part of the Ireland Mountain Running Championships, which includes the highest peaks in the four Provinces and one of the reasons why the date was moved to May. Continue reading

Mountain Running Report

Yorkshire 3 Peaks
On Saturday 28th April Ian Bailey took on this classic Fell race in Yorkshire. Described as a marathon with mountains, it consists of 23 miles and 1600 metre of ascent and descent across the 3 summits of Pen Y Ghent, Ingleborough and Whernside. Ian finished a very credible 9th in a time of 3:05:32 against some very stiff competition and sponsored athletes.

Highland Fling
Sunday 29th April saw the annual Highland Fling take place in Scotland. This is a 53 mile ultra trail marathon taking in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs national park. NAC had 3 competitors taking on the challenge, none of them strangers to this sort of thing. Dominic McInerney and Stephen Wallace both finished in 10:40:24 followed shortly afterwards by Mark King in 11:17:23.

By Hill Runner

‘It is not much fun in the searing sun’

A Bogusboy Special Report on the Virgin London Marathon

Murdock, O’Flaherty, Farrell and Rodgers.

The London marathon is one of the great spectacles of the spring sporting season. With competition for places greater than ever, securing an entry is about as rare as seeing Ronnie Horrox in a Hill & Dale race. More and more people are looking to complete the ultimate challenge of 26.2 miles, something that the human body is not designed to do. Training is arduous and requires commitment to a minimum of 16 weeks of intense training, with long miles a feature of every weekend. This year has been particularly difficult for those in training with very cold weather, snow, heavy rain and winds. Even after enduring all of that, there are no guarantees of success and little things can undo all the good effort. One such factor is the weather on race day. Last week in Boston, there was torrential rain and this invariably impacted on performance. At the other extreme, excessive heat can be an even more undermining factor and can put paid to the best laid plans as evidenced at the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast recently. Throughout the week, the meteorologists (and the mortorologists, in the form of our very own Jerome ‘The Prophet’ McCrickard) were warning that Sunday 22 April would be hotter than any runner would desire, even those used to training in warm weather at altitude. Advice was given; take more fluids on board throughout the race and adjust your expectations to match the conditions.

They got it right, unfortunately
The forecasters got it right and temperatures soared as participants assembled at the red, green and blue starts at Blackheath and Greenwich for the 2018 Virgin London Marathon. With arguably the strongest ever field assembled, and the welcome presence of Sir Mo Farah, the streets were lined from early morning as fans sought a glimpse of the greatest ever British male athlete. In the days leading up to Sunday, organisers were repeatedly sending out warnings to athletes to be mindful of the weather and to adjust their target times accordingly. This was not going to be an occasion on for PBs; start slower and forget about the time was the wisdom proffered to the masses. Additionally, they had advised against running in fancy dress to mitigate against the danger of heat exhaustion underneath cumbersome attire. Extra water was ordered by the pallet load and additional on course showers were provided to combat the temperature increase. Continue reading