Hill & Dales 2024 Race 3 – Slieve Martin Race Report, Results & Photos

Report by Rory Morrow

In the first open mountain run of the 2024 Hill and Dales series, 315 hardy runners completed a gruelling race up and down Slieve Martin.

Open Mountain

With Castlewellan and Tollymore distant memories from the past fortnight, a plethora of eager runners pulled into Kilbroney Forest car park. Whilst divine intervention isn’t for all, there were surely some who said their prayers beforehand, knowing the daunting climb that lay in store.

Upon ambling down to the van to scan in, full body kit was announced as mandatory. Out came the bumbags, many of them a Hill and Dale spot-prize from yesteryear.

On the open mountain runs, it’s essential and reassuring to have the mandatory kit in your possession.

The Start

You start running, you start climbing. The first corner sets the tone and 500m into the route, runners will have to keep reminding themselves that what goes up most also come down! A challenging way to commence the open-mountain terrain!

Having narrowly dodged a downpour of rain and hail beforehand, underfoot conditions were slippy throughout. Runners jostled to keep both their balance and position on narrow paths of the ascent.

Approximately seven kilometres lay ahead for runners with two peaks amounting to roughly 500m of elevation including an epic downhill scramble over paths, grassy banks and one-way tracks. Arguably one of the descents of the entire series.

Runners climbing their way up Slievemeen

Runners climbing their way up Slievemeen (photo – Richard Cowan)

Podium Positions

Newcastle AC duo, Tom Crudgington and Ashley Crutchley finished first and second respectively. Niall McCartan, of BARF, took third.

Crudgington, having won at Castlewellan, claimed his second top spot of the series with a speedy 35:37.

Close behind, Crutchley recorded a swift 36:24 with McCartan’s 37:09 earning him the final podium position.

Tom Crudgington leading the race from the start

Tom Crudgington leading the race from the start (photo – Paul Fegan)

Martjse Hell, of North Belfast Harriers, was the first female home. Esther Dickson and Tanya Cumming, of Newcastle AC, sped in to claim second and third in a closely contested finish.

Hell’s win made it back-to-back weeks as the first lady home, a top-thirty finish with a splendid time of 44:06.

Dickson nudged out Cumming by a single second as they raced in recording excellent 44:37 and 44:38 times, respectively.

Esther Dickson with Diane Wilson hot on her heels

Esther Dickson with Diane Wilson hot on her heels (photo – Richard Cowan)

Thank You

As ever, this event couldn’t happen without the immense efforts from all involved in organisation.

Firstly, thanks to all the Marshall’s across the course and to all scanners at the start and finish line. Joint race directors, David Hicks and Barry Oģ McConville also deserve great credit for their considerable hard work in planning the event. (David even had time to squeeze in an excellent top-ten finish!)

Special thanks go to the Marshalls who helped and waited with an injured runner until Mountain Rescue arrived. Philip Mackin, from Rostrevor, drove halfway up the mountain to help the injured runner get down safely, huge thanks to Philip and those Marshalls.

In addition, three runners selflessly stopped to help out. Angela Sterrett, Emma Spence and John McConnell all sacrificed their run to ensure the injured participant got down safely. A very commendable gesture from all three, thank you.

Emma Donnelly arrived at Kilbroney for the race early and registered, however, 10 minutes after come back to registration explaining she had to travel back to Ballymena and was unable to run. She did, at least, collect a much sought-after 2024 Hill and Dale mug, along with a packet of Linwood’s Overnight Protein Oats.

Thanks to Linwood’s for sponsoring two hampers for the first male and female finishers alongside a box of free samples.

At the Cloughmor Inn, pizza boxes rammed with goodies were gleefully devoured. Thanks to the staff for their hospitality in providing food and music afterwards.

The Rostrevor chapter of Newcastle AC also deserve credit for clearing the course of debris in the past few weeks and for marking it out.

Next Week

Slieve Binnian this Thursday night as May begins with another assault on the legs!

Bring your mandatory kit, register by 9pm the Tuesday before (every week) and we’ll see you at Carricklittle Track for a 7.30pm start!

Race Results:

Click here for results

Race Photos: 

Photos by Richard Cowan (If you want to use Richard’s photographs then feel free. The link below gives you a chance to say thanks by buying him a cup of tea: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/thekillinchyphotographer)

Photos by Paul Fegan