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Race 10 Photos by Paul Fegan
Report by members of Newcastle AC
McCambridge shows the future is in good hands
Incredible as it may seem, the 10th and final race of the 2018 Hill and Dale series took place in sun-baked Donard Forest on Friday 22 June. With the major prizes already decided, the traditional season closer had the feel of the final day of the Tour de France. Admittedly, there was no champagne on offer at the outset, but there was a carnival atmosphere among the 243 competitors and the large crowd of spectators. The major talking point of the evening focused on whether the race the race would be over before the spectators would be eaten alive by the millions of midges that always turn out to support the event. Frank Morgan was observed to be smelling rather sweet and it was soon revealed that he had purchased a new repellent from Avon. This proved to be a most welcome improvement on his usual scent; a bottle that Maura won at the bingo in Ballykinlar in 1976!
The ‘Director’s Cut’ leaves no stone unturned
This is a night of tradition. There is the traditional distribution of prizes to those who have completed the series (and the insulting of those who have not and chance their arm in the hope of landing a coveted t-shirt!), the traditional presentation of the prizes to the various category winners and the traditional donating of all race fees to charity. The other long-standing tradition is the organising of the event by the long-standing club treasurer and Hill & Dale stalwart Mr Damien Brannigan. Anyone who knows this fine upstanding citizen will testify that he leaves no stone untenured in his meticulous preparation and is epitomised by the oft-used adage ‘the devil is in the detail’. Regrettably this year the race Director was unable to attend. Needless to say this did not prevent him from planning the event to the ‘nth’ degree. He found a suitable stand-in in the form of Deon McNeilly and provided his substitute with a list of instructions that were second to none. Regrettably space her does not permit the sharing of the missive, but suffice to say McNeilly was left in no uncertain terms about what needed to be done, by whom and at what time. McNeilly was so impressed that he is considering this being the blueprint for all future Hill & Dale races. The level of detail was so thorough that McNeilly was even able to get his cous cous served at the most ambient temperature when he returned home and began the task of constructing a late, yet nutritious supper! Continue reading
Race 9 Photos by Paul Fegan
Hill and Dale Race 9 – The Meels
One of the most important jobs regarding the Meels, or indeed in any process, is the determination of direction the course is to take. In the case of the Meels, this is a decision of either a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction. It is akin to determining the date Good Friday should fall on, or establishing when Ramadan is to begin. Lunar charts are consulted, the sighting of the first bell heather flowers are noted, sheep bones placed in the Happy Valley are studied, the prophet is consulted. However, with a knowing look and nod Frank Cunningham at the previous weeks race will give a declaration. This year it was ‘Clockwise’ which led all subsequent discussion in hushed and quizzical tones going along the lines of ‘Does that mean it’s Meelmore or Meelbeg first?’.
From the start young Gonzalo showed both sides of his heritage. He led the group off like a nimble ‘Torero’ in a bull ring. However the other heritage he has is in 400m track running and this proved costly for him as the Hill and Dales are; longer than 400m, up and down hill, as well as not being on a flat track. After the summit of Meelmore, a tight group of four established. This continued through to the second summit of Meelbeg and at the line it finished up; Colm Murtagh, Timothy Johnston, David Hicks and Stephen Cunningham. Forty seconds separated the top four. Congratulations Colly on your well deserved first win this season. Mention must also go to Jonny Brattle of Willowfiled Harriers who, on his Hill and Dale debut, finished 9th and first placed Junior. Congratulations Jonny. Continue reading
Photos by Paul Fegan
A number of titles decided with 2 races to go.
The Loughshannagh Horseshoe – Hill & Dale Race 8 by Bogusboy
Loughshannagh is undoubtedly the most challenging of the Hill & Dale courses, characterised by steep climbs and sharp rough descents on entirely unpredictable ground. Whichever way it tackled, it presents a very good test of mountain running ability. This year, the challenge saw the race record entry of 208 take on the 4-peak loop in an anti-clockwise direction, summiting Carn first and Ott last. Unlike previous years, conditions were benign and the race directors were encouraging competitors to carry water and sun cream rather than the more traditional full body cover. This was a far cry from previous years when competitors were rounded up by sheep dogs such was the extent to which they were lost! The Prophet had arrived early, armed with three fish suppers that were devoured in minutes by the organising team at just after 5:30. It looked like a plague of locusts of Biblical proportion had descended on the car park! Then, it was down to business to get the marquee erected and the registration area established. Thankfully the ever reliable Cairns and Rice had arrived by this point and produced a range of power tools to ensure the job was done correctly. It was like Changing Rooms meets DIY SOS and there were infinitely more Chiefs than Indians. Needless to say the job was done and in typical fashion there was a call for tay as all stood back and admired their craft. The Bohemian ambiance was completed when Rice produced two plastic chairs from the back of the van, one of which was broken!
It is more efficient than ever
It was not long before the athletes rocked up to be processed using the new streamlined entry system. Despite the speed and accuracy of the process, many have complained that they no longer get lambasted by the entries management team in this new age of uber-efficiency. Many have called for a return to the ‘old days’ where pre-race insults and sledging were included in the entry fee! Needless to say, there was value for money this week as the race organisers hurled mild abuse at those who wanted it and those who did not! Continue reading
Photos by Paul Fegan
Lynch and Dickson continue their dominance
Hill & Dale Race 7 – Millstone Report by Mud Slinger
While Millstone might appear on paper to be one of the more accessible races in the Hill & Dale Series, the 241 hardy souls completing the course on a balmy evening that brought May to a close might beg to differ. Conditions were humid for this the 7th race out of 10 as clear skies continued to characterise the series to date. In previous years, this race was re-routed due to torrential rain on more than one occasion.
As Race Directors McVeigh and King barked final instructions to a largely obedient field of athletes, Ricky Cowan, a veteran of numerous Hill & Dale seasons, battled his way to the front to ensure he would pace the frontrunners out of Donard Park with his usual aplomb. Cowan was off like the proverbial shot and it took at least 20 yards before Lynch and McKee were able assume their rightful position at the head of the race. Continue reading