Bailey knocks out Rocky
by Fat Boys Slimmer
The Rocky Race is the 6th race of the 2014 Hill and Dale Series. The race started on the mountainside at Leitrim Lodge and was run in an anti-clockwise direction. It included the summits of Altnataggart, Pearse’s Castle and Tournamrock before the final climb and the fast descent of the eponymous Rocky.
Conditions were perfect for racing, little wind and more importantly visibility was good. One hundred and eighty four souls pitched up for the start, with many complaining of sore legs and feet from those who had competed in weekend events including the annual Slieve Donard Race, The Inter Counties Fell Championships, Mourne Etape Cycle Event, and dancing in Jack O’Hare’s front bar!
People always ask us (with the exception of “Are you mad”?) what attributes make a good fell runner; the reply would go along the lines they must have good balance, be sure footed, and have the ability to change direction quickly; so when Jonny Mornin ambled towards Tony Steele’s registration point before the race and embarrassingly tripped and stumbled up the steps into the registration desk he definitely didn’t tick the afore mentioned boxes – Not so cool Jonny!
One of the great things about the Hill & Dale series is the wide variation in each of the 11 races and also the variation within each race itself. This week the ground covered included smooth track, rough bog and tussocky terrain, gentle and steep climbs and descents.
The start of the race is fast before the field climbs steeply alongside the edge of Kilbroney Forest before rejoining the main track heading for Altnataggart. Last year I wrote that Ian Bailey was in the “Running form of his life”, this year he does not seem to have relented and he led the field up the wall, and on to the main track hoping to continue his winning streak after his win at Slieve Donard with local boy Seamus Lynch and David Steele in hot pursuit.
In a break with the traditional route, David O’Flaherty and Deon McNeilly both took off at high speed, as if they had left the immersion heater on and took the longer but more runnable route to the main path to Altnataggart. This made an interesting spectacle from the start and those watching on from Rocky had a great view as they raced for the first summit.
Ian Bailey and Seamus Lynch opened a gap on the others on the path to Altnataggart, and pushed each other hard the whole way round swapping the lead frequently in a fantastic battle with no quarter given. Ian made a big push to open a gap on the final part of the climb to Rocky to snap the elastic to Seamus.
From the finish line, the view of the descent was spectacular, aided by the commentary “Look at the line he’s taking” by ace descender himself, McCann. Ian and Seamus hurtled down the mountainside with Ian winning in a new record time of 30.45 breaking Alan McKibben’s 2006 previous record of 32.06 for the anti-clockwise route. Seamus Lynch had another fantastic performance in second place finishing in 30.57, and David Steele third (also inside the old record) in 31.52; Three fantastic performances.
In the ladies race there was a first victory in the 2014 series for Shileen O’Kane, who had a comfortable win. Female series leader Diane Wilson had sat this race out in preparation of NIMRA Championship Race at Loughshannagh next week. Catherine O’Connor from East Down had another good run to finish second in the ladies race with a fast finishing Patricia McKibbin third, who seemed to benefit from a visit to Santa’s Cottage during the warm up for the race!
Behind the leading five male runners, Mourne Runners, William McKee had another fantastic run in this years’ series finishing in 6th overall. William loves the rough terrain, and has been very consistent this year. The Mourne Runner has continued his good form from last year with excellent performances throughout the series, and again must be one of the most improved runners this year.
Like golfers – Anyone who knows runners, will know that they can justify any bad performance with a suitable “excuse” – Newcastle’s Jerome “Jinxy” Farrell (or should it be Cinderella), seemed strangely last year to have a bad performance when there were hailstones or bad weather? This year however things have not improved, and Jinxy continues to be on a bad “run”. At the Slieve Donard race last week on a beautiful day, he borrowed a pair of size 9 shoes from Gary Cairns and was going great guns until reaching the ice house on the descent, when he thought his right foot was a bit chilly? On further inspection, he realised the sole had come off and was trying to frantically beg/steal/borrow a right shoe size 9 from spectators to get himself home, and this he did, and ended up finishing with a fell shoe and a females pink right shoe! This week, he lost his left shoe in a bit of soft ground on the course and lost a lot of time having to dig the shoe out. Anyone who has a lonesome left shoe or right shoe Jinxy is your man!
Many thanks to all the runners, registration helpers, summit marshals, finish marshals and finally to the Downshire Hotel in Hilltown for their fantastic hospitality, it is the first time in years that there has been food left at the pub! Jim Patterson please come back!!
Next week is the 7th race in the 2014 series with the Loughshannagh Horseshoe with a 7.30pm start.
Runners please remember to bring full body cover and registration is from 6.30pm at Ott Car Park. Please use car park at Spelga for parking.
** IMPORTANT NOTICE : Any runner who knowingly competes using another athletes race number will be disqualified from the Hill and Dale Series and all future NAC organised events. This could have serious implications for runner, marshals, race organisers and other competitors. **
Race 6 of the Series will take place on Thursday 22nd May – Rocky.
Important race instructions are below:
– Registration opens at 6.30pm in Leitrim Lodge Car Park, please car pool where possible as parking is limited and park responsibly if car park is full.
– Race starts 7.30pm SHARP
– Start: Grid ref 224:256 – Leitrim Lodge car park, Sandbank Road, Hilltown (under Rocky Mountain).
– Route is anti clockwise – Route in order of the summit checkpoints of Altnataggart, Pearses Castle, Tournamrock, and Rocky Mountain and back to start.
– Pub is Downshire Arms Hotel in Hilltown
** NOTE – due to the changeable weather conditions wet weather gear will be required. Please remember to bring full body cover with you **