Hill & Dales 2024 Race 5 – Rocky Race Report, Results & Photos

Classy Crutchley Rocks on Rocky
Hill & Dale Race 5 – The Rocky Horseshoe by Bogusboy
As the weather improves, the Hill & Dale series heads towards the mountains with the races becoming more technical and some ability to navigate needed. For most this means following the person in front (often a fateful error!), but we all know from previous experience that conditions chan change so quickly and a seemingly benign evening can become anything but that. Last night the rain did threaten on several occasions, but thankfully it held off and allowed the 291 hardy souls to attempt the four peaks and for 288 to complete the course and return safely to the bottom where the bespoke and bijou spaette facilities awaited them. Hot bubbly water and fresh linen were proffered to those who had signed up for the Platinum Package. One female volunteer was overheard expressing her disappointment that she had not brought her tanning kit.

Crutchley taking the win

Crutchley taking the win

The increasing popularity of the series can be attributed to a myriad of interdependent factors. Indeed, recent research posited that the upbeat and cheerful personality of the Race Directors ranked highly among the most important reasons for participation. Never was this more true than in the ebullient and effervescent nature of this weeks duo!!! McVeigh and Grant are renowned for their wit and repartee with the former frequently doling our words of great encouragement that invariably lead to people coming back week on week for more of the same – these boys certainly set a high water mark for others to aspire to in their endeavours.
In typical Hill & Dale style, they arrived on motorbikes and in Hiace vans from 6pm onwards. With the trusty team of ground crew in place early on, it was the usual seamless registration with Debbie in full control and demonstrating ruthless efficiency in getting the large numbers through. There were one or two less effective volunteers on hand who seemed more interested in shooting the breeze that doing any work and then having the audacity to demand tea! One even disappeared to go on swings and play hide and seek – you just can’t get the staff these days. However, these things do not go unnoticed and Uncle Frank, who if the photographic evidence can be trusted, appears not to have moved from the spot where he was sitting exactly a year ago, was making a detailed mental note! In his defence he claimed that it was his duty to keep the stone warm!!! Among those assembling were Dominic McGreevy and his great grandson Michael who was dressed like a fella showing prize bullocks in the judging ring at the Show!
After ruminating on his performances in the first few outings of the season and openly voicing his disappointment at not making the top 10 to date, Connell Nugent knew that things had to change. To give credit, he arrived much earlier than usual to ensure that he got a proper warm-up. However, the warm-up, it would seem, consisted of removing the fluff from between his toes. This may seem bizarre to most, but Nugent’s efforts were rewarded with a season high 286th place finish. If he can get the toenails trimmed next week who knows what might be possible!
At the more serious end of the field, the ever improving Ashley Crutchley proved to be in a league of his own as he romped to his first Hill & Dale win of the year by the impressive margin of 1 minute and 28 seconds. Having climbed very well, Crutchley finished strongly beating his time from last year and improving his finishing position by one place. He had the Rocky Spa to himself for a brief interlude. Second was Joshua McAtee with Mark Stephens third, just over 3 minutes behind the winner.
In the ladies race it was the same podium finishers from the Donard Race on Saturday, albeit in a different order. Esther Dickson returned to winning ways, but did not have it all her own way as Martsje Hell finished the small matter of 12 seconds behind in a reasonably close and tight ladies race. Donard champion Diane Wilson had to settle for third, 2 minutes behind Dickson, but was still smiling after her stellar performance 4 days earlier.
The usual battles ensued as the field made its way yo the finish. Many held back for 4 miles to ensure that they had a kick for the last 20 yards much to the chagrin of messers McVeigh and Grant who were pondering why they did not make a move earlier. McVeigh’s thoughts on this issue are too sensitive to be published, but those who know him will undoubtedly understand!
Fell running is a high risk activity where the safety and well-being of the participants must always override all other considerations. Mindful of this carrying the proper equipment is mandatory on open mountain races and marshals stand on the peaks to guide the runners. Our thanks to those who were on the peaks last night. The dangers were made apparent once again when one of the athletes got injured a distanced from the finish. Experienced marshals, supported by those returning from other peaks were on hand to manage the situation and ensure that everyone got back to the car park safely. We RDs want to thank Andy Godfrey who supported us by driving his beast of a truck up the pathway to meet the returning party containing the injured runner. This reflects the camaraderie and desire to help that epitomises this unique community of runners. While this was going on, the Prophet was directing everyone from the comfort of his sofa – clear evidence of the distributed leadership model at work.
While some were showing leadership others were being plain daft. Despite a reminder earlier in the day from his guru an unnamed volunteer with the initials John ‘Hen’ Kelly arrived late. Upon interrogation it transpired that Mr Kelly had gone to Donard Park and by 7pm was wondering why no one else had turned up. Realising the error of his ways, he hared up the road and made it there in time to receive the good old-fashioned lampooning that his actions merited. Mindful of the need to cover up the incident McVeigh & Grant proclaimed in a single voice, ‘make sure that’s in the report!’
Next week is Race 6 – Luke’s under the watchful eyes of the McVeigh Brothers, Connaire and Brian. The meeting point is Meelmore Lodge with refreshments afterwards at Doran’s Bar on the outskirts of Hilltown. Please remember to register in advance and to car share where possible.
Bijou Spa

Bijou Spa

Race Results:

Click here for results

Race Photos: 

Photos by Paul Fegan

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)