3rd Winner as Eddie Hanna wins at Rostrevor
The 3rd race in the 2009 Hill and Dale Series took place on Thursday 23 April in Kilbroney Forest Park Rostrevor. Some say it is the least popular race in the series based presumably on the fact it follows the two most popular races, however records show that is was actually the 4th most popular race in 2008, with the least popular being the final Donard forest race with 118. This year the entry was again down on the first 2 races but up 14 from last year at 161.
The weather on the evening was cool, the rain that had threatened all day had arrived and the cloud was touching the tree tops, visibility 1590 feet up on Slieve Martins Summit would be low but as the route is well defined following either foot paths or fences navigation wouldn’t be a problem.
At 19.30 sharp the race was off with Neil Carty and Eddie Hanna setting the early pace following closely by Alan McKibbin and Deon McNeilly both racing for the first time in this series. As Fiddlers Green approached Eddie had a clear lead, this is nothing new for Eddie, who has been seen leading the way in early season NIMRA (N Ireland Mountain Running Association) races at Slieve Gullion and Slieve Bernagh before fading away. Either Eddie’s race preparations have changed or his fitness has improved, either way at the summit Eddie was still in the lead just ahead of Alan, followed closely by Neil and Stevie Cunningham. On the decent Eddie continued to build on his lead, with a fast finishing Neil passing Alan as they approached the forest, this ensured Neil took his favourite 2nd place. Eddies winning time of 33.09 is one of the fastest in the 10 year history of the race, the current course record set in 2007 in perfect conditions by Alan McKibbin is 32.46, breaking the previous record of 33.02 by Deon set on the first running of the race in 1999 also in wet conditions. Based on this form could Eddie be the new H&D favourite?
In the ladies race Charlene Haugh returned after missing last weeks race to win in a fast time of 39.02 almost 3 minutes ahead of 2nd placed lady and V40 winner Shileen O’Kane. Unlike the men’s race with three different wins in three races, Charlene now has 2 wins and based on current form will be untouchable. Further down the field Dominic Greevy had a good race winning the vet 50 in 13 position overall with Billy McKay taking the V55 in 37th place. Perhaps old age in finally catching up with him, Deon came home in 7th position overall to take the V45. First male junior home was Mourne Runners Sean Knight who was just ahead Mournes recent youth policy transfer from Newcastle Noel Douglas in 50th place. Mourne Runners (10 points) took the team prize from Newcastle (19 points) showing perhaps that their youth policy is paying off after all.
Going by the recently commissioned H&D spot prize T-Shirts post race celebrations should have taken place in Ned’s Bar but a change of landlord since printing there has been a Pub name change, so it was of the to the Fiddlers Inn formally known as Ned’s Bar. This now adds to the amendments on the T-Shirts following changes to the final nights race as a result of the Donard Park Rock Concert. So much for advance planning!
Next Thursday’s race is Slieve Binnian and the only mountain top finish, could there be a 4th winner for the 4th race or can Eddie continue his form. Race starts at 19.30 sharp, with entries closing at 19.15. No parking is allowed on the road for safety reasons; all vehicles must follow marshal’s directions in to the field.
This week’s race report was not up to the usual standards of either wit or big words (can’t think anything fancy) as is was produced by Borat, who is not known for his literary skills. Hopefully next week will see the return of Bogboy or Bogous Boy or Son of Bogboy or maybe Bogboys Uncle.