By Hill Runner
Race 5 of the NIMRA championship got underway today (Sunday 17) with the annual Flagstaff to Carlingford Fell race. Conditions on the morning didn’t look good with a thick blanket of fog hanging above Slieve Foye and by the time the bus dropped everybody off at the start line fog was covering most of the course. Armed with a map and compass on unfamiliar territory was sure to be a disaster for some, with many tales to be heard when everyone eventually made it back home! The route sees runners starting off on the side of Anglesey mountain, where a number of checkpoints lead you to the mast on top of Black mountain. From here you head towards the Long Woman’s Grave picking up another checkpoint at the stone cairn along the way. Crossing the road here, there is a steep climb up along the side of a forest before heading towards Slieve Foye. With so many route choices on this section it was sure to be interesting.
The Whistle Blew and Lynch Flew
At 11am race organisers Armagh AC got things underway. NAC’s Seamus Lynch, Glen Runners‘s Johny Steede and Newry AC’s Keiron Kelly broke away early on and made steady progress throughout as they made their way to Slieve Foye and the notoriously hard to find summit. With visibility down to about 60m it was hard to see anything or to know who was closing in on you. Eventually finding said summit it was a short run home to the finish line, where Lynch dropped down through the rough ground like a stone, leaving his two comrades behind to finish 1st in a time of 1:47:00 with Steede 2nd in 1:47:05 and Kelly 3rd in 1:47:52 and first v45 too.
Carrying out a recce of the route is always an advantage and having raced here many times before it helped NAC’s Pete Grant get an excellent 4th place in 2:06:37 and 1st v50 as he led a group of followers around including Newry AC’s Esther Dickson who finished 1st female in 2:08:35 and 8th overall. Having a bad day at the office was NAC’s David Hicks who had made a number of navigation errors after checkpoint 1, eventually catching up with a large group before pulling away on the Slieve Foye leg to claim a very lucky 10th place in 2:16:09. NAC’s final runner was Declan McElroy who finished 32nd in 2:50:39 making NAC the 2nd team overall to Newry AC.
A well organised catering team saw everyone fed and watered at the Slieve Foye centre where Armagh AC’s Brian Valelley proceeded with the prize giving.
The final Hill+Dale race takes place this coming Friday June 22, starting in Donard Park at 7.30 followed by prize giving in O’Hare’s bar.
The next NIMRA race is the Spelga Skyline on Saturday June 30th, online registration is now open via the NIMRA website.