O’Connor’s first win and Bailey does it again
by the BIG YIN
The Millstone Race starts in Donard Forest on the forest trails out onto the Mournes, tracks the wall to an ascent onto Millstone Mountain, descents to the quarry and back through Donard Forest. This year a slight tweak to the course took the runners down the pipe track at the middle bridge so avoiding the rooted single track. This 4 mile route with 1500 feet of climb requires the runner to possess speed, endurance, climbing/downhill skills and knowledge of the terrain. Clearly a race suited to Ian Bailey of Newcastle AC who was hopeful of his 5th Hill and Dale win in 2014 and Catherine O’Connor of East Down AC poised for her first win.
At 7.30pm on a great night for running the final checks were made – the marshalls tested their radio’s, Shileen & Debbie checked they had selected the correct footwear and the race began on schedule.
Despite many of the regular runners resting up for the weekends marathon distance events a fine entry – 163 in number made their journeys from Belfast, Larne, Castleblaney and China !! yes and more on that later.
Race control at sea level were informed that Ian Bailey was first to the quarry and held a slender 6 second advantage over Seamus Lynch and David Steele who were together at this stage of the race. Leg speed is the name of the game from the quarry home. With these three all known for their speed, it was predicted by the time keeping contingent in Donard Park that the winner would come from this grouping.
First out into Donard Park was Ian Bailey who powered to a fine victory; this was Ian’s 5th win in the 2014 Hill and Dale series. Ian has been in superb form in 2014 and this course probably suited him more than others and his turn of speed was demonstrated on the forest trails out to the mountain and the descent back from the quarry. Yet again Seamus Lynch of Newcastle AC produced a quality performance and picked up another podium finish in 2nd place. David Steele also of Newcastle AC pushed hard and finished only 5 seconds behind in 3rd place. William McKee of Mourne runners again went well in 4th place and Neil Carty showed that he can still compete at the top of the field in 5th place.
Catherine O’Connor of East Down was the first lady home in 33rd place. Catherine has had six 2nd places in 2014 so this victory must be especially satisfying. Shileen O’Kane of Lagan Valley AC was 2nd lady in 42nd place with Sinead Murtagh 3rd lady in 69th place. Patricia McKibben was 4th lady in 72nd place. Hazel McLaughlin was 5th lady and winner of her category.
Racing was tight all through the field. Michael King (22nd) sprinted home to pip Conor Doris (23rd) and Connor Reid (24th) only 7 seconds between these runners. Simon Reeve (25th) of North Belfast Harriers edged out Colin Pascoe (26th) PJ McCrickard (27th) Alistair Haddow (28th) and Dee Murray (29th). Competition was fierce at the at the 47 minute mark with Gareth Lyons (45th) Gerry Kingston (46th) Neville Watson (47th) James Lappin (48th) Daniel Burns (49th) Martin McMullan (50th) Eugene McCann (51st) Ian Shek (52nd) Jason Ratcliffe (53rd) and Phillip Murdock (54th) only 60 seconds separating these guys.
Jansen Wang from China who was here on a business visit, received an entry into his first Hill and Dale race from his colleague from Belfast. Jansen was actually first home to Donard Forest ie approximately 15 minutes after the start. Jansen explained how he did not want to get lost in the forest and turned for home at the first bridge !! Fair play to Jansen for getting back safely and the loudest cheer of the night in O’Hares bar was for Jansen who received a Hill and Dale mug and running jacket.
Many hands needed
Big thanks to all who helped make this event take place. Entry team – Nicola Wells, Alana Wells, Kerry O’Flaherty, Mary Knight and Richard Rodgers. Barry Wells for course marking. Mountain marshalls Jim Patterson, Ian McCracken, Audey McVeigh, Andrew and Sarah Watson, Moya Burns. Donard Forest marshalls Mark King, Stevie Wallace, Cahal Kielty, Brian Steele, timing and results team (Frank, Mary, Richard, Joe and Jerome) results processing expertly handled by Darragh McCrickard. Thanks also to our photographer Ryan McDonald who was taking great shots at the top of Millstone and Martina Hawkins for managing our website. A great crowd of runners and marshalls went back to O’Hares in Newcastle. Superb complimentary hot snacks and great atmosphere were enjoyed by all. Many thanks to Jack O’Hare and staff led on the night by Niall and Gary for their continued support, hospitality and service.
Next up is Hen and Cock
Race 9 of the series sees the action return to the open mountain with the athletes taking on the Hen and Cock Mountain. Runners are reminded of the need for full body cover, a whistle and a compass to comply with kit regulations. In the event of poor weather athletes who fail to meet these requirements will not be allowed to take part in the race. Entry will be from 6:15 pm onwards and competitors are asked to car share where possible.
Millstone is Race 8 of the Hill & Dale series and takes place on Thursday 5th June. Details are as follows:
– Race Registration is from 6:15pm at the back of O Hares bar, enter from Donard car park.
– Park in Donard car park, Newcastle.
– Race Route is as follows: start in Donard Park, route through Donard Forest is marked, sheep track climb and through gate onto open mountain, pass check points at both the ascent point and on summit of Millstone Mountain, descend to stile at Quarry check point – do not cross any river when approaching Quarry, route through Donard Forest is marked, finish at start point in Donard Park.
– Race starts promptly at 7:30pm
– Pub is O’Hares Bar
– As this race is run partly on open mountain, please bring full body cover including, compass & whistle. There will be a pre race check.