Here we go again.
Report by Dale Hillard
Another 11 weeks of torture, torment, and suffering and that’s only trying to decipher Bogusboy’s weekly ramblings! Good news this week is the afore mentioned is in Austria skiing, or that was the last reported sighting before he disappeared in a white-out.
Luckily, the locals are not too worried as they can still hear his voice echoing around the Tyrol. In years to come, these locals will build up an old legend and tell their kids about the man, half human, who roamed the hills above their village. Like the elusive Yeti, they would affectionately come to know him as Bigmouth.
Back to business, Thursday evening marked the eagerly anticipated start of the 2012 Hill and Dale race series. Competitors had travelled from all parts of the North and South of Ireland and were joined with others from further afield like Gavin Coventry, who made the long journey from North Yorkshire, to soak up some of our local hospitality and experience come of the ‘craic’. Runners were welcomed into the Forest park with clear blue skies, sun shining through the spring colours of the surrounding Arbour and a Lake like a mirror reflecting the evening light.
The start line is perfectly positioned in front of the picturesque Lake and with the castle in front this makes for one of the best settings for any start line.
On the dot of 7.30pm the whistle blew and official race starter Frank Morgan got the runners underway. 231 athletes, a new record for this race, took off towards the Castle. It’s about 100 yards up-hill to the turn and important to pace yourself and not get carried away by the atmosphere as there still 5.2miles and 1080ft of climbing ahead of you and is important to keep a bit in the tank for the rest of the course.
Off they sprinted, luckily for many there is a bit of rest-bite as they descend down into the Spring Gardens. Unfortunately, what goes down must go up, and runners began the start of the first of three climbs in the race. The field settled down and the race was on.
Out front by the Winter garden Jonny Steede led, closely followed by the ever green (soon to be half centurion), Deon McNeilly. This was the pecking order for the rest of the race with Jonny putting on a fierce finishing pace to keep him in front with a gap of 22seconds over McNeilly which he held on to a win in a time of 33.14. Nineteen year old, Andrew Annett had a storming finish to come home in 3rd overall in a time of 33.48 and 1st junior – one to watch over the rest of the series.
A little further down the field Shileen O’Kane had a convincing win in the ladies race in a time of 40.07 with her nearest challenger being Ciara Largey, 1min and 6secs off the pace. Is this the closest challenger to O’Kane’s dominance in the Ladies category? Who knows? Shileen comes into her own when the going gets tough and the series moves on to the rougher mountain races. Watch this space.
Other great performances throughout the field were recorded by category wins for; 5th overall and 1st V40 Barry Monaghan, Clive Bailey 15th overall and 1st V35. Dominic McGreevy 19th overall and 1st V55. Eugene McCann 20th overall and 1st V50, (he couldn’t be could he?).
Gillian Wasson made the long journey from Coleraine worthwhile securing 62nd in her first Hill and Dale race and was 1st LV35. Stewart Cunningham 64th and 1st V60. Anne Sandford who raised the importance of recognition of the cat’ winners (I agree) was 1st LV45 in 78th over-all. Daisy Murray 109th overall and 1st FJ. Mary Mackin 123rd and 1st LV55. Mary Clarke 221st over-all and 1st LV50 (she couldn’t be could she? Maybe there is a cream the rest of us don’t know about…Yet!
To get this printed in the local newspaper we always have to mention our geographically and intimately closest club, Murlough AC. They fielded, arguably, the best turned out team in terms of glamour, full club colours and matching kit. Unfortunately they were let down as usual by a certain individual who will remain nameless. Those shorts, which aren’t club issue. (they were banned in the 1980’s after the Berlin wall was demolished and they were seen on one of the protesters). I queried the relevance of these shorts and was told that they were in fact banned at that time. So to get rid of the stock-pile, the entrepreneur bought several dozen of them hoping to off-load them in the local market, that was a non runner. Unfortunately, no one else wanted them (understandably) so he kept them and is determined to get his money’s worth out of that deal. A great quality in a person. So to everyone else who notices, it’s not the same pair of shorts, it’s just another pair from the vault.
Anyway, thanks to all the volunteers who have given up there own time to help in the running of the race. Without these volunteers we would not have a series. Special thanks on every competitor’s behalf goes out to the Irish Classic mineral water company who supplied the much appreciated drink at the finish.
Thanks to Martin McMullan in LIFE for the use of his premises for registration and all the extra help. Much appreciated.
Post race ceremony was in Maginns in the Town. Thanks to Marty and Brendan and staff. The congregation were fed like the parable of the loaves and fishes. Ooops. Slipping! Food for man and beast. A great spread was laid on and all patrons went home with full bellies.
Also, special thanks to Maginns who sponsored a free raffle for a special prize for all who were at the presentation. This was won by local, Neil Mc Veigh – well done to him.
Next week is the Tollymore forest race, 5.5 miles with 900ft of climb. Registration is in the Barn from 6.15pm. If you forgot to leave your number in the yellow box last week please let someone know at registration.
Well done to all involved.