Saturday April 27th saw the first round of the British Championship take place in Newcastle. The race was meant to be the same as last year, the Mourne High Line, which starts at Spelga and makes it’s way over to Commedagh before finishing in Newcastle but unfortunately due to the weather and strong winds organisers were forced to change the course at the last minute. Frantic course marking took place throughout Donard Park and with all marshals in place the race was still able to go ahead on time. The route would be starting in Donard Park going along fire roads to the Granite Trail, a sharp ascent to get the legs going then over to checkpoint 1 at the upper bridge before following the Glen river path all the way to checkpoint 2 at the saddle. Checkpoint 3 was on top of Commedagh before returning the same way down to the upper bridge again where a fast finish along fire roads and trail took runners back to Donard Park.
From the off a lead group of overseas visitors led the charge, gradually increasing the lead as they went. First man to the top was Helm Hill’s Rob Jebb in 42:29, not bad for someone in m40 category. A few fast descenders saw Rob slip to 9th overall finishing in 1:05:18. First man home was Keswick AC’s Mark Lamb in 1:03:17. First local was Mourne Runners’ Johnny Scott in 1:09:51 and first NAC man was Gary McEvoy, where a blistering descent of 21:38 saw him to 50th place in 1:15:33. Not far behind was Sean Russell finishing an excellent 61st in 1:17:35.
In the ladies race it was Helm Hill’s Kelli Roberts who took the win in 1:13:27. First local female was Megan Wilson, running for Dark Peak, finishing 2nd lady in 1:15:07. First NAC lady, in an excellent 17th, was Aine McCann in 1:25:56, followed by Sinead Flynn 28th in 1:35:45, Paulette Thomson 30th in 1:37:59, Bronagh McInerney 42nd in 1:44:43 and Linda Rogan 44th in 1:44.51. Not too often NAC have more female competitors than male on the start line and with conditions so bad it goes to show the length these women will go to to avoid house work! Prize giving along with tea and sandwiches was followed with many a tale of ‘what if’.
Further afield on Saturday, NAC’s Zak Hanna, was competing in the uphill only race trial for the European Championship in Wicklow. Not happy with the 2 races clashing Zak decided to whip things up in the Mournes by sending in Storm HANNAH! Zak won the Wicklow race by over 2 minutes, which finished on top of Djouce, putting him on the Irish team for the European Championship. Well done Zak.
Next mountain race is this Thursdays H&D Binnian to the top, it’s also a NIMRA Championship race too.
By Hill Runner