* A set of keys were left in registration van last night. Please contact PJ McCrickard: email@example.com
Stevie Wonder? Whilst Others Wander!
by Pete Moss
As the 2013 Hill and Dale series draws nearer to its final fling, 164 runners assembled last Thursday evening to take up the challenge of race number 10 over Hen and Cock. This course is a long established fixture, although it has been absent from the calendar for a few years, which meant that for some this was their first time over the course, while for others it saw the welcome return of an old favourite.
The route involves a fairly simple trot over Hen followed by a very short flat section and then a steep and longer climb to the summit of Cock before returning via Hen to the finish. Quickly to the front were the usual suspects of Steven Cunningham, Ian Bailey, Seamus Lynch and David Mc Neilly who were joined on this occasion by Sean Donnelly and William Mc Kee, having only managed to pull away from the fast starting Ricky Cowan, who is a leading contender in the prize for ‘The most consistent runner over the first 3 yards’. Further back, runners jockeyed for position, as run turned to walk and all talk turned to grunt.
On the night, first lady home was Shileen O’Kane who ran very strongly to take the victory well clear of Anne Sandford and Denise Mathers. In the open ladies race Amy Mathers, following in the footsteps of her mother, took the victory while Derabla Magee from Newcastle won the Ladies junior race.
In the men’s race Cunningham and Bailie broke free from the chasing bunch and were still together at the top of Hen on the return. On leaving the summit however Ian took the rocky slab descent while Stevie opted for the grass. The grass proved the quicker and as a small gap opened Stevie sensed the victory and pushed hard down the final descent pulling further away from Ian with every stride. The waiting crowd stared in wonder as he covered the ground like a man possessed, indeed Paul Watson was overheard saying ‘Stevie is truly a wonder’,while Paul’s mate Deon added ‘A wonder indeed!’ Ian Bailie finished second while Seamus Lynch was third.
In the men’s veterans category there were some noteworthy performances notably John ‘Hen ‘ Kelly who finished ahead of Pete Grant to take the V45 prize. John, speaking to our reporter shortly after the race, and clearly very emotional said that he was very proud to have had a mountain named after him! Another notable performance was that by Hugh Suffern who won the V55 category and although he too was tearful and had to be steadied by his good friend Leslie Mullholland, later said ‘this is the proudest moment of my life!’
Sheep through a gap
Over recent years, chief marshal and club stalwart, Frank Morgan has taken the art of organising the race finish to a hitherto unprecedented level, with attention to small detail, being his speciality. It was no surprise therefore to find a finish set up for this race second to none with many complimenting Frank on his efforts and single minded devotion to detail. Cleary visible from the top of the mountain, well planned and laid out, symmetrical and a fine site to behold, the finish, would easily attract runners to the timing area and passed the waiting Morgan and his team, or so you would think!
While it is true that runners get tired as they approach the finish of a race, it is hard to understand why they might choose to weave around the entrance to the finishing funnel like sheep reluctant to go through a gap or bees returning to their hive. It was hard for Morgan to understand as he and his team watched in disbelief as not one but three runners opted for the unorthodox approach to the finish line. As they ran this way and that, it became clear that Morgan, a man of endless patience, was showing the first signs of concern and then, just in the nick of time and with a collective roar, the strays were called home by the watching crowd. Speaking afterwards Morgan said ‘I’m glad a potential crisis was averted but I regret that I was still busy when they eventually crossed the line as in my experience they would have benefited from a little feedback!’
As numbers returned to the box and thoughts turned to refreshments the runners headed for the prize giving in Greenan’s of Kilcoo where entertainment was provided by ‘Gary Mc Laughlin and the Blaney Men’. The Blaney men are normally the furthest travelled but were just pipped to the post for the award by Steve and Phil, from the far side of Blaney, from a place called Tasmania!
Thanks are due to many including Greenan’s for their continued support, summit marshals Mark Hanna and Ian Mc Cracken who braved the midges on Cock Mountain and to Arnold Huddleston, Domnhal Mc Comish, Paddy Mc Cartan and Stephen Mc Knight on Hen Mountain, to Joey Mc Cann and his team at the entries caravan kindly supplied by Tony Steele and to Audey Mc Veigh, Mary Knight and Frank Morgan at the finish.
A special word of thanks to Ivor Pritchard for use of his premises as a car park and to chief car park marshall PJ Mc Crickard who, although insulted by many and visibly stressed, managed not to offend anyone whilst undertaking his duties.
The final Hill and Dale race of 2013 takes place on Friday 28th June over Drinahilly and registration is in Donard Park under the capable directorship of Mr Damien Brannigan. Finally a reminder that there will be no entry fee for this race and instead, a collection is being taken for the ‘Simon Community’ in fond memory of our fellow runner, Denis Rankin. The ‘Simon Community’ has kindly been chosen by Denis’s family and a donation would therefore be greatly appreciated. Prize giving night will take place in O’Hares, Newcastle after this race.
The Last one off Hen Mountain is a rotten egg.
The last of the 3 junior Hill & Dale races, sponsored by Toscano Pizzeria took place on Thursday night. Prior to the senior race, at 6.45pm, 10 boys and 6 girls lined up to take on the challenge to ascent and descent the very tough Hen Mountain, what was for most their first ever mountain race.
Oisin Brennan from Springwell AC led from start to finish and he crossed the line to the amazement of the spectators in 8 mins 37 secs. This was an exceptional performance for such a young lad, a real star in the making and certainly one to watch for in the senior Hill & Dale series in the future. Zac McKee took 2nd in the year 9 boys race.
Caleb Dempsey from Ballymena & Antrim AC, winner of race 1 and race 2 back in April, took 2nd place overall and won the year 10 boys race. He was followed by another impressive performance from Newcastle AC’s Jack Quinn in 3rd place overall and 2nd year 10 boy. Fellow Newcastle AC athlete Eoghan Knight took 3rd and Alex Hendrix took 4th in the year 10 boys competition.
In 4th place overall and winner of the year 8 boys race was Peter Carty who looks like a real chip of the old block, crossing the line in his sock soles having lost his shoes to the mountain. His Dad, Neil seemingly forgot to pass on some valuable knowledge to his son on how to tie his fell shoes. However after witnessing this fine run he must have shared some of the secrets which have kept his dad as one of the finest fell runners in this country for many years. Owen Edwards from East Down AC was 2nd in this age category with a fine run from Fionn McKibben of Newcastle taking the final podium place in the year 8 race, another young athlete who obviously got some mountain running coaching from a parent!
The girls were having a “hen” party
First girl home and winner of the year 8 girl’s race was Newcastle AC’s Sarah Dougherty in another outstanding time of 12:09 in her first ever mountain race with fellow Newcastle AC team mate Lucy Kenneally who is another athlete with mountain running in her veins making it a one, two for the local club. Posting an equally impressive time was Tara Findlay from East Down AC finishing as winner of the year 9 girl’s race in 12:31 with Laura Green also of East Down AC in 2nd.
Two out of three ain’t bad
Two of the 3 Doyle triplets, Niamh and Eilish battled it out for 1st and 2nd in the year 10 girls race with Niamh just edging out her sister Eilish. No doubt this is not the last we will hear from the Doyle sisters competitions?
Just like any typical Hill & Dale race unfortunately only 15 of the 16 starters finished with Caolan Hawkins taking a fall on the descent with a suspected broken ankle. He promises to be back next year to conquer the mountains. Many thanks should also go to all those who helped Caolan down the mountain.
Well done to all those who took part in this very tough race and no one should underestimate the challenge that these young athletes took on and conquered. We hope all the athletes enjoyed the experience.
Race 10 – Hen & Cock – of the 2013 Hill and Dale Series will take place on Thursday 20th June.
Online Registration now CLOSED
Registration Car park J233277
Start: Bottom of Hen mountain at sheep pen
Checkpoint 1( Hen summit) – J245275
Checkpoint 2 ( Cock summit) – J253268
Checkpoint 3 ( Hen summit) – J245275
There will also be a junior race for secondary school athletes which will start at bottom of Hen mountain, go to Checkpoint 1 and back to finish. Race is approx 1km. See junior section for details.
Note : Full body cover is mandatory for all participants regardless of weather conditions. Runners should bring this regardless of weather forecast.
There will be a kit check at start and finish of race. Further instructions and information will be available at registration.