Win for Andrew Annett at Slieve Martin
Low cloud cloaked Slieve Martin for the third instalment of the 2012 Hill and Dale Series and as the entry queue grew the rain began to fall with increasing determination. At almost 1600 feet Slieve Martin is the also the first serious climb in the series and with quite a few of the more accomplished climbers missing, choosing to save themselves for the for the 13 mile Annalong Horseshoe on Saturday, the results were likely to be different from the first two forest races. A combination of a perceived tougher course, poor conditions and resting runners resulted in the entry being a little lower at 164 and is in no way a reflection of the popularity of the race Director!
The start began with the usual pre-race briefing with all runners being reminded of the importance carrying safety equipment comprising of jacket, over trousers, compass and whistle. Not having the safety gear at future mountain races will result in automatic disqualification as the health and safety of all who participate remains the utmost priority of the organisers. They were also advised of the location for the 45 minute cut off point, of particular importance on a cold, windy night for the safety of the marshals on the hills. After the briefing the race started with Andrew Annett opening an early lead which he held to win by over one minute from the winner of the first two races Johnny Steed, who perhaps had one eye on saving some energy for Saturday while wanting to retain pole position in this series.
One for the Future
An excellent result for young Andrew and it is heartening to see a young local runner doing well and there appears to be no reason why we can’t see a lot more good results from this talented prospect in years to come. Third to finish and first over 45 was Newcastle’s Dave McKibben (another who is making moves in the right direction as the series unfolds) who was well clear of David O’Flaherty in fourth. Past winner of the race Eddie Hanna, was next in fifth place, showing he can still climb and that his renowned fitness is returning. Again this marks real progress from finishing 23 in the first race; if he continues to improve at this rate it shouldn’t be long before he is winning again. Another big improvement in 6th place was Eamon McCrickard, the extra training raking concrete and lifting big heavy things one handed is surely paying dividends. First lady in 12th place was Irish Orienteering Champion, Ciara Largey with her second win of the series, well clear of current ladies champion Shileen O’Kane who finished 18th overall and first lady over 40.
He doesn’t get out much!
The race finished with all runners accounted for, but stories of strange cackling and laughing sounds coming from an orange bag on the summit of Slieve Martin started to filter down to the masses who were enjoying the warmth of lower ground and being reunited with their warn clothes. Some like ‘Hen’ who finished in the top 10 for the first time were enjoying their second, third and even fourth bottle of water. Summit marshal Billy McNeilly arrived and was questioned about the sightings and while they were true it transpired they were nothing to worry about, as it was only race photographer Dave Goddard enjoying the spectacle of suffering, rain drenched, wind beaten runners from the warmth of his gortex bivibag passing him by.
A late declaration in South Down!
A large number of runners proceeded to the Kilbroney Arms for excellent, complemintary post-race sandwiches and for some (Hen and Donal included!) a welcome pint or two. Sorting out the results wasn’t going as well however it was the Big Fella’s (Deon’s) turn to be race director and perhaps he should just stick to running (a fact best illustrated by his performance in winning the Annalong Horseshoe two days later). Proceedings had got off to a bad start with missing entry sheets and then worsened with missing numbers on the results sheet. At one point there were six more finishers than starters! Fortunately with the help of finish video, and under the supervision of marathon man Kendall (who was now adding a sore head to aching legs!), Brendan and Samantha managed to correct the mistakes. As the first draft was printed and circulated to the expectant masses , Shileen O’Kane enquired about the delay and on being told of the importance of having the results correct, she replied that outside the first twenty or so no one would be that bothered. Then as if on cue, Mary Knight, who finished 162, arrived to complain that her time was wrong. It would appear that for some every second does count!
Another team effort
Thanks to all those who helped at the race on a very wet evening, in particular Newcastle AC Junior members Lucy and Eve Keneally who did an excellent job collecting the entry fees. Next Thursday will be a break in the series to accommodate the Slieve Donard race on Saturday at 14.00, which has been moved to an earlier date to be the first race of five in the all-Ireland Mountain running championships (see separate preview by my esteemed colleague Bogusboy). The next race in Binnian on Thursday may 10th and all runners are reminded of the strict enforcement of the kit regulations as the series moves to the open mountain. Registration will be in Willie Marks’ back yard and runners are asked to car share where possible and follow the instructions of the parking marshals.