Photos by Paul Fegan
Lynch claims victory on Donard
O’Kane makes it 5
Race Report by Hill Runner
Saturday May 12 saw the annual classic Slieve Donard mountain race take place in Newcastle. Run every year since 1945, this year saw a few changes. Starting in Newcastle’s main St, the first checkpoint was at the saddle, the most direct route being via the Glen River path, turning left to follow the Mourne wall to the summit, some 852 metres above Newcastle making it Northern Ireland’s highest peak. From here runners descended down the other side towards checkpoint 3 at the quarry, where a good line will see you picking up the path that leads to it. Free route choice from here to checkpoint 4 at the first bridge saw people going off in various directions, all trying to see if they were quicker. Weather wise the sun stayed out from start to finish unlike last year, where torrential hail stones battered people half an hour from the start. A cool breeze helped keep temperatures under control on the long climb to the summit.
The first 3 over the finish line were separated by a mere 7 seconds on the summit leaving it wide open for a good descender to claim victory. NAC’s Seamus Lynch had the quickest descent time of the day, 16.31 making him this year’s winner, and getting his name on the famous trophy for the first time finishing in 55.14. In 2nd place was Mourne Runners man Willy McKee in 56.17 followed by team mate Timmy Johnston in 58.59. Last man to finish under the magic 1hr mark was NAC’s Colm Murtagh, where some quick descending saw him take 4th place in a time of 59.51 and also first MV35. Showing some great form this year with a string of 4th place finishes in recent races it is only a matter of time before the big man finds himself on the podium. A large number of NAC athletes competed on the day and are listed below: Deon McNeilly first MV55 in 1:08:02, Paul Carlin 1:11:08, John Kelly (hen) 1:14:20,who 20 min before the race was walking around Newcastle telling anyone who would listen, “I’m not running today.” Patrick Bradley 1:16:48, Pete Grant 1:18:15, Barry Wells 1:19:32, Micky Flynn 1:20:46, Gareth McCauley 1:24:18, Gary Cairns 1:26:02, James King 1:29:27, Nigel McKinney 1:36:07, Stephen Knight 1:49:25, Sean Milligan 1:54:59, Neil McVeigh 1:55:43, Connell Nugent 2:29:52
Shileen wins for 5th time
In the ladies race it was Lagan Valley’s Shileen O’Kane who won for the 5th time, making her the most successful female athlete at Donard, finishing 27th overall in 1:12:20 and first FV45. 2nd place was Becky Quinn from IMRA in 1:15:30 and first FV40 and 3rd place went to the fast improving Sarah Graham of Mourne Runners in 1:16:23 and first FO. Just missing out on a podium was NAC’s Trisha McKibbin finishing 4th in 1:17:07, first FV35 and also recording 2nd fastest female descent time of the day in 25:38. Second lady to the top just 6 seconds behind O’Kane was Sinead Murtagh who had a very strong climb getting there in 48:04. A girl who has been sticking to the roads of lately, winning Thursday nights 10k in Newry and today finished 5th lady in 1:18:51. I’m sure husband Collie could teach her some of his descending skills and Sinead will definitely be one to watch in the remaining H+D races. Also having good races on the day for NAC were Mari Troeng 1:21:58, Sinead Flynn 1:30:19, Grace Neville 1:33:00, Bronagh McInerney 1:34:01 and Angela Kerr 1:45:20.
A very successful day was had by all, with over 200 competitors taking part and everyone making it back safely. It goes to show the effort that was put in by the committee. These things don’t happen without all their hard work so a huge thanks to everyone who helped out on the day including marshals, registration team, time keepers, photographer Paul Fegan, drone man Graham McCauley and Mourne Mountain Rescue. Prize giving and hard earned refreshments was courtesy of O’Hares bar and main sponsors were Lindsay Graham Estate Agents, Rogers Construction Ltd and Hill Trekker to which we are all very grateful. Full results with splits available online. Normal Thursday night service resumes this week with Hill and Dale race Rocky at 7.30pm