Binnian Doesn’t Break the Juniors Determination

Report by Siobhán Grant

All roads led to Slieve Binnian on Thursday night for the infamous Binnian To The Top, Hill and Dale Race. Race 4 of the series saw over 300 runners take to the start line at Carrick Little. The only Full Open Mountain race for the U16 squad and welcoming back a full U18 contingent after their trip to Limerick to secure themselves a place in the U20 Irish Team.  

Now don’t be fooled by the pictures of Binnian on Instagram, as this race wasn’t going to be a scenic run. An incoming weather front would hit mid race and it would take no prisoners.

Runners scrambled for position at the start knowing it would be tough slog up the third highest peak in the Mournes. It was Zak Hanna who answered  the Newcastle AC seniors plea to teach the young uns a thing or two on Mountain Running. Untouchable from the off, he cemented why is one of the best in the world. Though in his dust tracks he was relentlessly followed by the best U20 mountain runner in Ireland, Tom Crudgington who was just over a minute behind once reaching the summit.

Yet again Ethan McMullan continues to excel in this years series, taking 5th place and also reminding the seniors that he may be young but he too is following the example and achievements of those not far in front and representing the country at the World Championships in June. So I’d watch this space carefully as he completed the race in 27.18.

Patrick McDaid was back for a fight on the mountain and dug deep to ensure he wasn’t caught by his dad in the final climb to the North Tor. Crossing the line in 17th place in 29.52 as the weather began to change for the worse.

Yasin Brannigan crossed the line in 32nd place, reaching the now very windy and progressively wet summit in 31.25. Callum Flynn was also scrambling for place and after 32.39 he was getting scanned in 43rd place for a quick turn around.

Euan McIntosh continues to show the U16 participants that he is one mountain runner to keep an eye on as he powered up Binnian as if it was a race to the Tropiciana. He reached the summit in 33.02 which was 66th place overall. Karim Jaidine also made a solid climb look easy as reached the summit in 111th place in 36.02. By this stage it became evident why the RD rattles on about having full body cover even on the nicest of days on the mountain. The rain blew fast and the wind blew wild, with most runners scanning at the top and finding a few moments to get their wet gear on for the descent down before being drenched and wind beaten. The number of Seflies from the Top of Binnian were few and far between this year, mostly social media was flooded with pictures of drown rats and people glad to be safely down the mountain. Yet there were still 200 people on the ascent, marshalls scattered along the route and marshalls at the top hanging on for dear life.  Emily McMullan was making her Open Mountain debut and it was definitely an experience that she won’t forget easily. Considering she had already been racing for her school earlier in the day at the Districts Track and Field Championships at Mary Peters Track, she came home swapped out the spikes for her mountain kit and hit Binnian with full force. Even with the weather and the challenges she faced in the final climb, she crossed the line in 40.50 in 215th place. Extraordinary running from the Under 16 junior in her first year.

A huge congratulations to all our Juniors who took on Binnian. The Under 16 cohort have really made an impression on the series and get to relax for a bit as they will not be returning to the series until the final race at Drinahilly. However the Under 18 squad have now set the bar for themselves and have to keep up their astonishing achievements as the series progresses.