‘You do run run Ron, You do run on Ron’
by Bogus Boy
Praise and encouragement – two buzz words that sum up the attitude of Hill and Dale competitors in motivating kindred spirits to compete to the best of their ability. Never was this more evident that at Drinahilly in the season finale of what has been a wonderfully eventful and fiercely contested series. ‘Go on Ron’, ‘Come on Ronaldo’, ‘You can do it Ronnie’, ‘Almost there Big Ron’, ‘This is the last climb Ron’ were some of the printable versions of the words of encouragement that were doled in throughout the race – others were more direct and uncompromising!!!!
Ron has now become a hero among the Hill and Dale fraternity, with most having a high degree of sympathy for a man who was subjected to a veritable barrage of verbals for over three miles. At the heels of the hunt Ron had the last laugh and incredulously ran away from his coach in Donard Park and in doing so disregarded the efforts of his mentor, who in typically altruistic fashion, had sacrificed his own chances of a top 10 finish to support the efforts of his good friend (now his former good friend!!!). Ron was, however, applauded by the masses at the finish and praised by his fellow competitors for his stoic endurance throughout the race. After the race, Ron said he loved it and is already looking forward to the 2015 series; the Loughshannagh Horseshoe in particular.
A lot of direction given
With the series consigned to history, it would be remiss not to pay tribute to the team of 11 race directors who put so much time and effort into ensuring that all goes according to plan and the races are a memorable experience for all. They are ably assisted by a large pool of volunteers who take entries, marshal, process results and even write reports! Race Director in the final week was my good friend Damien Brannigan, a man with organisational capabilities second to none, who epitomises all the qualities needed to successfully event manage. Brannigan leaves nothing to chance. There were emails, emails confirming the emails, emails checking the previous emails and emails confirming the content of emails – and that was in January!!! In the week leading up to the ‘Big Day’ the emails became more regular, more detailed and more long-winded. On the night Brannigan had his men lined up in military fashion as he roared like a drill sergeant, ‘O’Boyle, where will you be at 7:15pm, you worthless excuse for a human?’ ‘Sir, Mr Brannigan, Sir, I will be at the first bridge to manage traffic Sir and to direct runners Sir’ was the instantaneous response. O’Boyle continued, ‘Then Sir, Mr Brannigan Sir, on completion of this duty Sir, I will proceed, Sir, to my second post where I will direct runners towards the YMCA Sir.’ Brannigan gave him a hard stare, but showed no discernible emotion, despite his obvious delight that his men were well prepared and would not let him down. And so it continued for at least half an hour as maps were produced, stuck on poles and every conceivable detail was attended to. The Entries Management Team were, for once looking sheepish, as the ever-watchful burning eyes of the Director looked on.
A chip of the old block
Usually there is a plethora of goodies available to race officials in the ‘tonysteelemobile’ to offer sustenance to thwe hard working race officials. Brannigan obviously heard of this and sent some jaffa cakes (numbering 4!) to feed the hard working entries team. Regrettable responsibility for distribution of the aforementioned confectionary was entrusted to the Director’s daughter Chloe who scoffed the lot, while the entries manager sat with his stomach rumbling and his ribs protruding! Had she been tipped off or had she received strict instructions not to feed wild animals!!!!
William has nerves of Steel
With none of the previous race winners of the season taking the line, there was a chance for a maiden victory for one of the up and coming ‘young guns’ – among whom William McKee and David Steele were obvious contenders. The two men had an epic battle that ebbed and flowed, with the Mourne man having just a little more pace in the fast run in to win by a narrow margin of 5 seconds and claim the only win in the series for the club that has dominated the last 5 years. McKee was a popular winner while Steele recorded a season’s best, a result that will undoubtedly inspire him to go one better in 2015. The evergreen Carty finished third, the Spartan fourth and Ballymena’s Johnny McCloy a very impressive fifth. Barry McConville brought both parents to the race and was rewarded with an excellent sixth place finish and the offer of trial with Newcastle AC. He will have to deteriorate quickly to secure a permanent contract!!!
O’Connor ends the season in style
Catherine O’Connor was first lady home to round off in style a memorable debut season. With Diane Wilson resting, to avoid embarrassing Brian (for the umpteenth time) and Shileen O’Kane recovering from injury (we wish her well for a speedy return to racing – though her ability to socialise has not been damaged), O’Connor lived up to her pre-race favourites tag and had a minute to spare over Gillian Wasson. Mari Troeng completed the female podium as all of the training with Patrick Higgins (9th overall) is certainly paying off.
Butler feels alone
My good friend and Hill and Dale stalwart Paddy Butler was somewhat dejected on what should be a happy night. Paddy had completed the course injury free and in a perfectly acceptable time – yet his head was down as the festivities began. The Hill and Dale Pastoral Care Officer Marty Brogan was sent to sort the issue out. After a couple of hours of intensive one on one, Brogan returned looking pleased with himself, followed by a smiling Butler. It transpired that Butler was devastated that his good friend Wayne Storey had rejected the Hill and Dale in favour of the Argentinean Tango at Harlequins. When challenged in the hours leading up to the race, Storey unequivocaly declared that ballroom dancing has always been his first love – 15 years in building a Hill and Dale reputation destroyed in one moment of madness!!! In a moment of greater madness Brogan agreed to partner Butler when Hill and Dale ‘Does Strictly’ in 2015!!! – Stevie Rice is not happy as he had foolishly thought Brogan would dance with him.
All in a good cause
The race committee would like to thank athletes for the donations made in lieu of entry fees on Friday evening. The donations totalled £1760 to be split evenly between the charities nominated by volunteers involved with organising the H&D series. The charities are Mid Down MS Group, Mary Murray House, NSPCC and Newcastle Scout Group. A further £560 in additional race fees from non-online entries will be donated to the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team in recognition of their ongoing support for the Hill and Dale.
And so it ends
All good things must come to an end and it is with great sadness that we bid farewell to the 2014 series; a series that saw greater participation than ever before with more than 600 athletes taking part at some point and a record number completing 6 of the 11 races. Our congratulations to everyone who participated and competed in any or all of the races and we look forward to a bigger and better Hill and Dale in 2015 – I have just received an email from Brannigan with the title ‘Drinahilly 2015’ – I am afraid to open it!!!
The 11th and final race of the 2014 Hill and Dale Series, Drinahilly, will take place on FRIDAY 27th June.
Instead of the normal entry fee a voluntary collection will be made for four local charities that have been nominated by volunteers involved with organising this year’s H&D Series. The charities are:
Mid Down MS Group
Newcastle Scout Group
– Race Registration is from 6:15pm at the back of O Hares bar, enter from Donard car park.
Check point 1: 362302
Check point 2: 358306
Check point 3: 365306