New Route ….. New Records!
The annual Boxing Day mountain race got underway today, albeit after a slight course change that wasn’t to everyone’s taste! The new course added approximately 1.4 miles on to the old route and this meant only one thing, a new course record up for grabs. The slightly longer route didn’t deter everyone as 77 hardy souls took to the start line. Setting this record was NAC’s Seamus Lynch, in a superb 55:03. The race started at a blistering pace for the first 1.5 miles along gravel paths, before hitting the open mountain and the start of a long climb up to the first check point at a stile between Slieve Bernagh and Meelmore. Lynch and CU Hare and Hounds’ Paul Pruzina led from the start, with Lynch slowly increasing the gap all the way to the finish line. The NAC duo of David Hicks and Colm Murtagh were neck in neck the whole race, pushing each other hard to pass a few runners before the first stile, leaving them in third and fourth place before the long descent down Happy Valley, which was like a skating rink. They were both passed by Ambleside AC’s Jack Millar, where the three of them battled it out for the final podium spot, where Millar pipped Hicks by one second to take third place in a time of 58:42, Hicks finishing fourth in 58:43 and Murtagh closely behind in fifth in 59:02. Not far behind, NAC marathon man, Patrick Higgins showed his versatility with a top ten finish in 1:06:46 to leave him ninth overall. Completing the NAC male lineup was Pete Grant, 1:09:28, in 18th position, Stephen Graham, 1:15:09, 28th place and Declan Magee, 1:27:21, 50th place. All performing very well in one of the last mountain races of 2017.
The women’s race was won by Bethany Haugh of Mourne Runners in a time of 1:11:23 leaving her in 23rd place overall. The 2nd lady home was NIMRA’s Moira O’Sullivan in 1:16:41, for 32nd place. Finishing of the female podium was NAC’s Mari Troeng in a fantastic 1:19:23, for 37th place overall. Just over 1 minute behind was NAC’s Sam McNeilly in 1:20:48 in 39th place keeping Mari on her toes throughout the race. Completing the NAC lady contingent was Catherine McIntosh in 53rd place with a time of 1:28:48, Bronagh McInerney 66th place and also winning the FV45 category in 1:36:20 and Pat Shields 70th in a time of 1:46:43. Excellent running by NAC ladies and it was great to see so many of you out today and long may it continue into 2018.
Full results are available on BARF Web page.
NAC was very well represented today, and if the feedback, as far as mountain running is concerned, is anything to go by then 2018 should be an excellent year for everybody. Recce runs of NIMRA events will take place in the weeks prior to the race, they are a very good opportunity for some mountain training and course knowledge, and are aimed at both beginner and experienced runner alike. Please keep an eye out on the NAC website and WhatsApp group for further details. Looking forward to seeing you all in the mountains in 2018.