Report by Dale Hilland
Last Thursday the first of the eleven race Hill & Dale series got underway. In ideal conditions 276 runners took to the line. In traditional fashion the whistle blew at 7.30pm and the race was on. Seamus Lynch led the field up to the Castle and took the hard left at Morgan’s turn, picking up the pace downhill and onto the Forest roads. By the Cypress Ponds the field had strung out with Lynch looking strong. A steady climb up to Foxe’s Green was a challenge for all but Lynch held on. David O’Flaherty was in a good position on Seamus’s shoulder followed by David Steele who had got the footwear just right for the fast clean running. As they came towards the back of the Castle, O’Flaherty made his move, took the lead and increased the pace. Lynch held on but O’Flaherty seemed very much in control. It was a 1, 2 and 3 for the Host club with O’Flaherty finishing 29secs ahead of Lynch and an ever improving Steele following closely behind.
A little further down the field other battles raged.
Work mates a few hours earlier saw Brian Wilson and Rory O’Hare battle for bragging rights in the office. Rory had set his sights high. In his first H&D race he was targeting Wilson. The gauntlet was down, but O’Hare’s lack of experience let Wilson get an unclosable lead, built up as he had to stop for breath after laughing at a happy face with his name on it near Foxes Green! Little amuses the innocent!
Lacking in breath is a common reason for a poor performance. No better demonstrated by our own Joe McCann. His excuse for a poor performance was that his running vest had shrunk in the wash. Thus restricting his breathing. It did look very restrictive but we think he was just drained after the London marathon. Which he attended the previous weekend… as a spectator!
The ladies race was a close fought battle with Diane Wilson from Dromore AC being pushed all the way by East Down AC’s Catherine O’Connor and followed closely by Shileen O,Kane of Lagan Valley making up the top three.
It’s great to see I am not the only gentleman in this day and age. After a nasty tumble on the Ridge walk, where speeds approach ‘Break neck.’ Orla Smyth was rescued by her ‘Knight in Shining Lycra,’ Derek Bunting. Sacrificing his finish and retiring from the race to help a fellow runner off the course is a true reflection of the running sportsmanship.
A big thank you to all who processed the entries, recorded the results and contributed to the smooth organisation of a highly competitive and successful race.
Thanks to Marty and John from Life who kindly opened their doors and welcomed all the runners and organisers into his establishment for a busy, but slick race entry team. Not forgetting Marty and Brendan and staff of Maginns who again excelled themselves with their hospitality. For those who missed the Karaoke after, there’s always another time!!
This Thursday the carnival moves to Tollymore Park for an exhilarating race around the twisting trails of the Forest and a wee taster of the open mountain.
Please try and arrive early to pick up your race number. For those who didn’t leave their numbers back after Castlewellan please bring them with you as there is a charge to replace them. Registration opens at 6.30 and the race starts at 7.30pm sharp. When you cross the finish line please leave your number in the box provided.