Mountain Buzzards come home to Roost

Final NIMRA race for 2022

Report by Newcastle AC

Saturday 24th September was the final race of the 2022 NIMRA championship with the medium category Buzzards Roost, hosted by Mourne Runners. Starting and finishing at Carrick Little, the route is a fast start up the track alongside the wood to the Annalong Valley before snaking up and around the Cove cave to the lower Cove plain and the first checkpoint. Speeding up again briefly the next climb isn’t too far away to checkpoint 2 at the Cove-Lamagan col, then it’s a gradual push again to Lamagans summit at 702m. An extremely technical descent then follows off its boulder strewn south west face, hitting the col above the Blue Lough towards Binnian. Another tough climb to the North Tor is followed by a long run over the ridge to the last checkpoint at Binnians summit (747m) which is then followed by the tricky descent down along the Mourne Wall to the finish.

The weather worked out well on the day for the race, a stiff enough breeze only confined to the summit tops. Whilst numbers were slightly lower on the day due to a few more races held on the same date, this did not lessen the quality of the field, which was a multitude of the best fell runners in the country at present. This manifested into some great battles across the 7.5 miles. Taking on plenty at the higher end was Pete Grant, who has had a superb season. He found himself neck and neck as he did in the Seven Sevens race with Conor Duffy and Declan McGrellis. Coming 18th overall in 1:29:16 Pete took the MV50 category win, and has no doubt claimed the MV50 overall title to sit beside his Hill & Dale one he acquired earlier in the season!

Only a place and 30 seconds behind Pete in the race was David Smyth. With a very strong Hill & Dale series, the Seaforde man took into a few of the longer NIMRA races these year as well. Saturday however was David’s first in the red & yellow vest of Newcastle, and as per usual he went out like a train from the start! With a great tailwind on the Binnian ridge it would have been interesting to clock his mph there at 700m up

Next home with a very impressive 1:38:34 was Dominic McGreevy, who paces into the race gradually utilising exceptional speed on the climbs where he would generally overtake, coming in 27th place but also taking his age category of MV65. Hot on his heels was Pearse Brogan, who whilst trying to hold steady on the hard climbs, was making up plenty of ground on fast descents of Lamagan & Binnian, arriving in just under the 1hr 40min mark in 29th place.

Was good to see Declan McElroy out as well to finish off his series and whilst training is mostly parked up for him at present a commendable 40th place to him finishing in just before the 2 hours had passed. Indeed this was Declan’s 6th championship race this year out of the 9, qualifying for the final league table along with Grant & Brogan who finished 8 and 7 races each respectively.

A big hand to Mourne Runners who do a mighty job of hosting this race. Afterwards a first class spread was laid out for everyone, and the race directors David Bell & Sam Herron sorted the prize giving. This was followed by Harry Teggarty handing out certificates to those who took on and completed Cassies Challenge from this time last year, a magnificent accomplishment if it was one of you!

Next up for the club will be the British Fell & Hill Relay Championships on Saturday 15th October, taking place in the Broughton Heights in the southern uplands of Scotland. 3 teams of 6 runners each have been entered to head over and are looking forward to testing their craft against some of the best clubs the other side of the water. Best of luck guys!