On 15th August 1992 the Spartan Red Sox hosted the very first “Seven Sevens”, with just 15 participants. At the time it was popularly believed that there were 7 mountains over 700m in height and whilst that was corrected in later years by Ordnance Survey, the name had stuck.
That initial day 30 years ago included only four runners; Marty McVeigh, Kevin Quinn (both Newcastle AC), Martin McNiff & Jim Brown (BARF)…indeed Jim remains the current Race Director. It is creditable to note that all four of these pioneers completed the circuit within six hours.
The seven summits which have to be completed in the race are Donard, Commedagh, Bernagh, Meelmore, Meelbeg, Binnian & Lamagan with the course direction alternating annually. The overall course length is 18 miles and covers 2,500 meters of vertical ascent.
This years event was an anti-clockwise affair and took place on Saturday 6th August with 73 runners putting their toe to the line – Newcastle AC had five competitors.
Given the firm ground conditions and favourable visibility the day had all the ingredients for a fast race, the only downside for the participants being the higher than comfortable temperatures.
The race started at a blistering pace with the overall winner, Adam Cunningham (Mourne Runners) leading the way from start to finish. Adam’s time for reaching the summit of Slieve Donard was an eye watering 43 minutes with an overall finish time of 3hrs 48 mins. His control of the race was a masterclass, with his position never under threat.
The race for Second and Third place was an absolutely electric affair with Timothy Johnston and Paul Pruzina putting on a classic battle over the full distance….the time difference and margin in ability between the two was literally only the time taken to “clock-in” at the top of each summit. However, in the end it was Johnston who had the edge with a margin of only seconds over Pruzina.
1st = Adam Cunningham, 3h 48m 47s
2nd = Timothy Johnston, 4h 51m 46s
3rd = Paul Pruzina, 4h 10m 28s
The competition between the ladies was well contested, with magnificent results for the first three;
5th = Alice Flint (BARF), 4h 30m 37s
12th = Esther Dickenson (Newry AC), 4h 09m 47s
15th= Martsje Hell (North Belfast), 4h 57m 30s
It was also a good day out for the Newcastle AC runners, with all of the Teammates making the best of the testing heat. Results for the local club were;
8th = Gary McEvoy, 4h 37m 03s
13th = Pete Grant, 4h 57m 04s
37th = Mark King, 5h 53m 17s
With Pete Grant finishing as the first MV50. Alan Ritchie retired after the Bernagh checkpoint with Rachel Wallace retiring on Meelbeg.
Overall there were 61 finishers, with everyone treated to a smorgasbord of gastronomic treats by the host club, BARF – Many thanks to all the organisers.
Race Report by Mark King