Saturday saw the final race of this year’s NIMRA championship take place, the Buzzards Roost. This was a first for this route and it certainly got the thumbs up from all who attended. Starting at the top of Carrick Little Lane the route follows the path towards the Blue Lough before veering right and heading to the gap on Lower Cove where it meets Lamagan. Keeping on the path, runners climbed to the Upper Cove/Lamagan Col before turning left and heading to Lamagan summit. From here it is a tricky descent through the rocks, bringing you out at the crossroads at the bottom of Binnian‘s North Tor. A long climb up through the Buzzards Roost eventually brings you to the summit of Binnian, before a fast but rough descent, back down to the finish on Carrick Little lane.
After a quick briefing by race director, Sam Herron, the whistle blew and it was a fast start on the good path. By the first checkpoint at Cove 3 runners took a lead, Robert Clark, unattached, Mourne Runners’ Johny Scott and NAC’s David Hicks. Positions changed frequently on the way to Lamagan summit before Clark and Hicks broke away on the descent. It was neck and neck on the climb to Binnian summit for the 2 knowing Scott and the chasing pack wouldn’t be far away. On the rough descent off Binnian, Hicks forced a lead before disaster struck, as he landed badly dropping a foot into a hole and injuring an ankle. Pointing Clark, who is over here on holiday from Dorset, in the right direction seen him take the win comfortably in 1:14:45 with Scott 2nd in 1:16:47 and Hicks limping to 3rd in 1:17:55 with seconds to spare from club mate Colum Campbell who finished 4th in 1:18:06. Having taken a break from the mountains Campbell proved he can still do it, spurred on with the upcoming British Fell Relays championship he will be competing at with his club. In 7th place overall in 1:20:06 was Pete Grant, showing some excellent descending skills coming off Binnian he passed 2 runners, 1 of whom had over a 1 minute lead from the top! The next 3 NAC men home in quick succession, having all ran consistent races, were Sean Russell in 19th in 1:30:28, Stephen Graham in 21st in 1:32:21 and Owen Brady, another man rarely seen running on a Saturday, no doubt preparing for the relays, finishing 23rd in 1:33:37. Eugene McCann also made a first appearance this year too, and was 3rd mv55 finishing 33rd overall in 1:43:16, setting him in good stead for the relays too. Only 1 NAC lady made it and had an excellent race winning her category, Bronagh McInerney, finished 8th in 1:47:39. The ladies race was won by North Belfast Harrier’s Martsje Hell in 1:26:05.
Prize giving afterwards was held in glorious sunshine where the Mourne Runners’ team put on their usual fine spread of tae, sandwiches, cakes and buns, much to the delight of everyone.
That wraps up the NIMRA season for this year and a big thanks must go out to all the clubs, marshals, timing officials, tea makers and the NIMRA committee for putting on an excellent show and making it all happen. Winners and category winners will be posted when results are finalised. There are still plenty of off road events taking place in the months ahead and with NAC sending 4 teams to the Lake District for the British Fell Relay championship later this month no doubt there will be plenty to train for too!
By Hill Runner