Hill and Dale Series 2011 – Race 3

2nd Win and Course Record for Des Woods

Report by Wingman

The third race the 2011 Hill and Dale Series took place in Kilbroney Forest Park, similar to last year conditions were dry in the evening sun, perhaps a little cool with a light breeze but perfect running conditions. The race entry was 166, down on last year maybe a few absent taking advantage of the extended bank holiday weekend.

Des Woods of Mourne Runners had an easy win for the second week, setting a new course record of 32mins 47 seconds, ahead of Ballymena Runners, Jonny Steede and North Belfast’s, Neil Carty in 3rd place making a change from his customary 2nd place. Coming home in fourth place, perhaps the surprise of the night was Paul Carling running for St Johns GAC, excellent prospect for the future – which running club will sign him first Mourne Runners or Newcastle AC?

First lady home was Shileen O’Kane in 28th place and Newcastle AC’s Anne Sandford was second in 47th place overall. Individual battles took place through out the field but none more so than Paul Stewart and Edward Cooper both from “Not the Sunday Run” who dived for the line, perhaps not the most sensible way to decide 135th position, judging by the resulting abrasions on their legs after sliding along the tarmac!

Mourne Runners, Willy John Brown finished this year in 101st following last year’s disappointment when he pulled out after being passed by Newcastle AC’s Marty McVeigh, to celebrate his success he left the car park in his 911 Porsche with lots of furious engine revving, only to stall on moving forward.

Newcastle AC’s Brian McBurney doesn’t run H&D races these days, saving himself for his annual pilgrimage to Ben Nevis. But he still likes to watch the competition and cycled to the top of Slieve Martin. All went well until he arrived at the bottom only to discover he had left his rucksack complete with car keys and mobile phone on the summit. Fourtunently the summit Marshall, Billy McNeilly, spotted the rucksack and brought it down for him, not that the car keys where of much use as he couldn’t get his car out of the car park which closed at 7pm.

Richard Bell, recent signing for Newcastle AC, finished 54th in 2010, improving to 20th position this year gives his view of the race:
“ Upon arriving I had to spend a few moments choosing between the three different types of running shoe I had brought. I wanted to run in trainers as the ground was bone dry and to protect against burning feet on the descent. Looking around most others seemed to be rolling with fell shoes. I opted for the in between trail shoe. This proved a sensible choice as aside from the first, and very last section, the trail was not exactly road running conditions
I have one strategy in a hill race. Make sure you are at the front when it starts so that people have to come around you rather than getting stuck in a road block. When the mayhem kicked off I stuck to my guns and hit the hill with a gusto. After a hundred meters, or so, I had to remind myself that I wasn’t a top ten runner and let those boys run at hero pace all the way to top. At this point it felt like I was setting the pace for everyone else which really isn’t a good idea seeing as how I had ended up blowing up towards the end on the previous outings. I eased off a little and let few punters come through.
I don’t know what everyone else thinks about when running up hills; I tend to flit between worrying that people are catching on me, to thinking about how much longer until the top, to considering why I spend the week looking forward to running up a hill feeling sick when I could be at home chilling. I churned through a number of these mental cycles all the way to the top of hill one. It was at this point one of my regular competitors came past me to ruin all those good times….! The past two weeks he has taken me midway through and proceeded to punish me all the way to the finish. This was a minor skirmish I did not want to lose. I figured if I marked him to the top of hill two I would have a good chance of beating down the other side ahead of him. Approaching the top of Slieve Martin I noticed he seemed to be waning a little and accelerated to a heady 11 minute mile pace to run the last few metres to the turn.
I engaged the nitro burners and ran boke pace all the way to the bottom.  Last year when I competed in this race I was only a few weeks into my hill running ‘career’ and people were streaming past me on the descent.  Thankfully this year only one lucky runner got past me – it was only because I was admiring the view for a moment, honest.
At the finish my support team was pretty excited as they hadn’t lost count of the people coming through. I was pretty happy as my regular competitor was a few seconds behind which is going down in my ‘black book’ of wins and losses. After lying on the ground for a couple of minutes I was recovered and looking forward to the next installment. “

The next instalment will be at Slieve Binnian, the only summit finish in the series. Please arrive on time as entries close at 19.20 sharp, parking is in the field as directed by marshals. No parking is permitted on the road side.

Slieve Binnian is an open mountain race full body cover, whistle and compass must be brought to the event.