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.
In the ladies race a fine performance, coming at the end of a consistent debut Hill and Dale series, saw Sarah Graham rewarded with her first win of the season. Congratulations Sarah. Gillian Wasson and Mari Troeng placed second and third respectively.
The Hill and Dale series has consistently been at the forefront of competition management. After all; Hill and Dales means Hill and Dales. This was fully expounded in the sovereign surrounds of the Happy Valley. From the negotiations over access to the adjoining field for car parking; the minimal physical infrastructure required to process the trusted competitors at registration; the maximum facilitation for competitors crossing the border/finishing line to ensure their details are processed quickly. That said, the process at the border/finish line could not be described as frictionless. This is mostly due to the compliance checks, to ensure barcode contents can be scanned, enforced by our premier haulier. You’d think he’d know better!
It is further down the field that some of the most closely fought battles are concluded over final placings. You would think that in giving competitors ten and a half acres of hillside in which to come to an agreed finishing order, they wouldn’t need the last 20 yards in which to stretch every last sinew to make up a place. But no, tight racing throughout the field. Well done all, proper racing!
A huge thanks must go to all those who help facilitate such an event. Every week, bidden and unbidden, volunteers make the events work. You know who you are, thank you.
Lastly, a reminder that the last race of the season takes place on Friday 22nd. Race 10 is Drinnahilly. Registration is at the back of O’Hares. Bring your dancing shoes for the final prize giving!
All the best,