The warning was Yellow on Meelbeg

From Yellow warnings of Thunder & Lightning, changing to warnings about rain, the Met office just couldn’t make up its mind.

Once the race organisers had contented themselves, that neither Thunder & Lightning, strong winds or heavy rain were any longer a threat to the athletes, the decision was made to mark out the Course, running over Meelbeg, with that long glorious ridge as the descent to the finish.

However, by the time the final markers had been placed, the fog had become so thick, that it was becoming a serious danger that the junior athletes would miss one of the 300 markers on the course and veer off in the direction of Fofanny Dam. Continue reading

Scrabo Hill Race

Thursday August 19th saw the return of the Scrabo Hill Race. The course follows a narrow single track through Scrabo Country Park and has plenty of sharp, steep climbs and rough descents over rocks and roots. Measuring 4 mile, runners had 2 laps to complete before finishing at Scrabo Tower.

I’ve heard of a sprint finish, but for the first few hundred metres, as far as I could see, 2 runners were having a sprint start. Pushing each other to the limit were Mourne Runners’ Timmy Johnston and NAC’s Tom Crudgington, with Johnston just nudging ahead to take the win in 26:33 followed closely by Crudgington in 26:52. Last podium spot went to Mourne Runners’ Johnny Scott in 28:58.

First lady was North Belfast Harriers’ Martsje Hell, 17th overall in 33:45, 2nd was Dub Runners’ Claire Tonry, 22nd overall in 35:21 and 3rd was Jog Lisburn’s Debbie McConnell, 23rd overall in 35:24.

There was a good turnout of NAC on the night, finishing 5th was David Hicks in 31:29 taking the mv40, also, 7th Simon Hodge in 32:04, 32nd Gerry Kingston in 38:07, 36th Eugene McCann in 38:31 taking the mv60 too, 42nd Declan McElroy in 39:46, 64th Owen Brady in 54:08 after rolling an ankle early on.

Thanks to race director Andrew Wallace for the reinventing of this race.

Race Report by Hill Runner

Photos courtesy of Jayne Bell

The 7×7’s

Saturday August 14th saw one of the toughest mountain races on the calendar take place, the Mourne 7×7’s. The route is approximately 19 miles long and covers 7 of the highest mountains in the Mournes, and depending on what map you look at, all are over 700 metres high.

In very warm and humid conditions the race started at 10am from Shimna College in Newcastle, with the first man back just over 4 hours later. Taking his second win in the NIMRA Championship was Mourne Runners’ Adam Cunningham In a time of 4:04:25. Pushing hard from the start was 2nd place man Johnny Steede of Glens Runners finishing in 4:10:07. Coming through strong in the end was Mourne Runners’ Gary Bailey taking 3rd in 4:22:20.

The ladies win went to Newry AC’s Esther Dickson, 7th overall in 4:38:50, 2nd place went to North Belfast Harriers’ Martsje Hell, finishing 14th overall in 5:01:39, and 3rd was Jog Lisburn’s Debbie McConnell, 16th overall in 5:07:35. Continue reading

The Fallows

Saturday 31st July seen the racing action heading to Rostrevor for the Fallows race, measuring 9 mile, it’s a fast course on well marked fire roads, steep tracks and a couple of tussocky summits.

Starting at the forest office in Kilbroney Park, runners were straight into a steep climb along the lower Burma. History lesson: named after the American soldiers based at nearby Ballyedmond who trained here during WW11 and were rumoured to have all been sent to Burma. After levelling out the course becomes flat and fast as everyone fights for position before turning left onto the Badger’s Claw. A very narrow, steep, unofficial mountain bike track that is difficult to pass anyone on. Crossing the upper Burma, the track continues on higher and steeper through a pine forest, eventually breaking onto the open mountain below the summit of Ballynagelty (known locally as The End of the World, come down it on your bike and you’ll understand!). Onto familiar territory now for anyone who has done the Slieve Martin Hill and Dale race, the route follows the fence all the way to C.P 1 on the summit of Slieve Martin before a gentle descent on heather to C.P 2 near the summit of Crenville. The ground gets a bit rougher here before coming onto a fire road. This is where pace is important as the next 3 miles is about trying to hold your position and still keep enough in the tank for the final climb up the switch backs on the slopes of Slieve Martin. Back on the open mountain the course  retraces itself following the fence to the last C.P on the summit of Slievemeen, veering right at Ballynagelty and down some very steep tracks and thankfully almost over now. So many paths to choose from but which one? Many of them lead nowhere and have dense bramble, but if you are lucky enough to get to the edge of the forest and onto the Clasha it’s down hill all the way at speed! Continue reading