Annett goes the distance at Rocky & claims his Maiden Hill and Dale Title
Report by Steelers
In conditions more akin to the month of December, 143 brave souls took on what must have felt like a 3 round bout with Rocky himself rather than the mountain. Gale force winds and horizontal rain were just 2 additional elements the athletes faced.
At 7.30pm the runners set off up the long lane and began the ascent of Rocky, at that point it became clear that Andrew Annett had no intentions of playing a tactical game with his adversaries, in a prolific display of climbing, he surged ahead of the field reaching the summit with 30 seconds to spare on a fast chasing group lead by Ian Bailey and Neil Carty. Annett continued to build a commanding lead and as the race reached Pierce’s Castle he was over 1 minute ahead of the field. As Andrew appeared from the mist, he was showing no signs of coasting home, driving hard right to the finish line in a fine time for 32:22 . The course record (ran clockwise) still belongs to Deon McNeilly in 1999 in a time of 31:21.
Meanwhile Carty and O’Flagherty conducted a race long duel, trading places frequently, as the race began its descent down the long lane it was O’Flagherty who eked out a slim 7 second advantage which he would hold to the finish. David Finished 2:03 behind Andrew.
Newcastle’s “new boy” Ian Bailey finished a fine 4th with namesake Gary 5th after showing some great sportsmanship by stopping to help the fallen Dave McKibben on the lane. Eamon McCrickard showed a fine return to form taking 6th place with Clive Bailey and Audie McVeigh having strong runs in 7th and 8th respectively. PJ McCrickard is enjoying continued good form finishing 15th. Ciara Largey won the Female Open with a fine performance finishing 23rd overall.
Andrew, at 19, is the youngest ever winner of the Hill and Dale title and a very popular winner indeed. He has clearly worked incredibly hard in training and fully deserves the accolade of Hill & Dale Champion, should he continue to improve at the current rate he will certainly take some beating in the foreseeable future.
Ciara Largey has an impressive 5 victories in the series to date, Ciara must be odds on to win the coveted Hill & Dale Female title needed one more strong finish to close out the title.
Hill & Dale on a Bike?
To the amusement of onlookers Nathan McComb hauled his mountain bike to the summit of Rocky and proceeded to take part in what could only be described as extreme mountain biking in extreme weather. Onlookers were at a loss as to which emergency services should be called, the two favoured being mountain rescue and psychiatric ward in Downpatrick! With considerable aplomb he descended Rocky.
Full Body cover or is it?
Evergreen, Mark King is a man who has experienced most things a Hill and Dale race can throw at you, however, one to add to his collection was endured on the climb up Rocky, amid the frantic scramble to the summit Mark was certain the elastic on his much talked about “shorts” had finally given up as he found them becoming ankle warmers! Much to his surprise this was quickly followed by his neatly pressed Y Fronts, was it the gale force winds that had caused such a wardrobe malfunction that seems to be the norm at Hill and Dale? No, the culprit it seems was none other than our own Bogus Boy. When questioned about the incident the defence proffered was that the slippery underfoot conditions made any object, stationery or moving, fair game if one was to advance up the steep inclines of Rocky. Thankfully, for all those behind, full body cover was restored, comments were exchanged and on they raced!
Mike Barton moment,
Much to the surprise of the race organisers, Mike Barton imposed a 6 min handicap at the start of the race on himself! Mike ran back in after the race had started looking for his bum bag which he thought he had dropped on the pre race warm up. He looked back at the van and there it was sitting waiting on him. Brings that old saying back, “you’d forget your____ if they weren’t in a bag!”
The Hard station
One of the Marshals on a bike was none other than former Hill & Dale champion, Paul Mawhirt. Paul took the opportunity of the “good weather” to ride fromNewcastleto the race HQ at Leitrim Lodge.
Arriving cold and wet, it seamed the only thing to do was to send Paul to the coldest marshalling point of the course. Paul, never known to shy away from hard work, was up to the task and looked after all the runners through his point.
Maginns of Castlewellan once again excelled with the food and drinks which were a welcome sight after the winter like condition experienced.
Special thanks to all who helped out on the night including, Frank Morgan, Brendan Quail, Tony Steele, Paul Mawhirt, Paddy McCartan, Nathan McComb, Alwyne Shannon, Joe McCann and the entries management team, Daragh McCrickard, Danny O’Boyle, Jap and the Crew on Rocky, without your help the race simply would not happen.
Items to be Claimed
Anyone loose a gents sports watch or ladies rain coat?
Both will be at the race registration on Thursday night for the rightful owners.
Next up the Meels
Next week’s race is Meelmore/Meelbeg, parking atHappyValleycar park, with limited parking car sharing is encouraged.
Ensure you have full body cover, sign-on from 6.30pm Race starts 7.30pm sharp.