Excellent start to NIMRA season for NAC

The Glens of Antrim village of Waterfoot was the starting point for the first NIMRA championship race of the year, Glenarriffe, or more commonly referred to as the spud race. On Saturday morning over 130 hardy mountain runners huddled at midday to listen to the race briefing, the wind and rain showed no sign of letting up as people sheltered behind whoever was in front of them whilst staring up at the mist and fog covered mountain we were meant to summit before returning back.

The race starts on the road for 300 metres before turning onto a dirt track for approximately 2 miles to the foot of the glen, from here it is a steep, wet, slippery climb for 1 mile to the top, returning the same way. Conditions underfoot were treacherous, heavy rain had fallen overnight leaving the mountain like a swamp and the dirt track like a bog.

Seamus Lynch once again led from start to finish, setting off along the road at a blistering pace where a small pack tried to hold on. At the summit Lynch and Zak Hanna were side by side with a 30 second lead on Mourne Runner’s William McKee. By the time they reached the bottom, McKee had closed in on Hanna where he eventually passed him along the dirt track to home, Lynch showed his descending skills by being well on his way to victory at this stage. Next home for NAC was David Hicks, battling hard on the climb and descent to pass a few runners to finish 7th. On his first race wearing the red and yellow vest was Lorcan Quinn, relatively new to Fell running, who has shown excellent potential and is one to watch in the future, he had a fantastic debut finishing 18. Further back were NAC duo Ryan McDonald and Stephen Graham, finishing 39th and 44th respectfully. Stephen having given Ryan a lift to the race I wonder if he took him home after that! Also towing the line on the day were Declan McElroy, Nigel McKinney and Declan Magee.

In the ladies race it was a hard fought battle too, first to the summit was Martsje Hell of North Belfast Harriers, being passed on the way back by last years winner, Newry Athletics’ Esther Dickson who won, 3rd place was Mourne Runner’s Sarah Graham. The NAC ladies finished close together , Catherine McIntosh 83rd, Grace Gilbert 84th and Angela Kerr 102.
For anyone to make the journey up the coast for a race in such terrible conditions, shows the dedication and effort NAC fell runners go to. Results like these makes all the training worthwhile and Saturdays turnout was a great start to the championship. NAC had 2 runners on the podium, also Seamus Lynch won the first man to the summit prize and their first 3 runners also took the male team prize. The next race of the championship is The Fallows on sat 24 March.

1. Seamus Lynch 43:49
2. Willy McKee 45:04
3. Zak Hanna 45:28
7. David Hicks 48:12
18. Lorcan Quinn 52.12
39. Ryan McDonald 56:38
44. Stephen Graham 57:57
64. Declan McElroy 1:04:18
79. Nigel McKinney 1:07:31
97. Declan Magee 1:12:07

1. Esther Dickson 52:47
2. Martsje Hell 53:25
3. Sarah Graham 55:49
13. Catherine McIntosh 1:07:55
14. Grace Gilbert 1:08:10
20. Angela Kerr 1:13:38

Report by David Hicks