No.7 – but more Hell than Chanel!

The “Highland Fling” is a 53-mile race from Milngavie to Tyndrum. The race uses trails (90%) and roads (10%) and covers long sections on the banks of Loch Lomond and through The Trossachs National Park.

“The Fling” is used as a qualifying race for the “Scottish Athletics National Ultra Trail Championship” and as such has certain rules, whereby runners cannot be assisted along the route with spectators only allowed at certain locations. Other quirks in the rules for this race are that no pain relief (ibuprofen or paracetamol) is allowed and neither too are walking/running poles.

On Saturday 23rd April the 15th edition of the run was held, with Newcastle AC’s, Mark King, putting his toe to the line for this his 7th time. Although a veteran of the race, Mark was under no doubt as to the challenge that lay ahead and when the race started at 6am there was a mix of excitement and dread. Continue reading

Sevens conquered by Four in under Six

Whilst NIMRA host the local championship, they also take one leg of the four races that comprises the British championship, and with the long category assigned for them this year what better or tougher event to stage than the Mourne Seven Sevens on Saturday 9th April. With a slightly longer 19.5 mile course involving 2600m of ascent it takes in the seven peaks over 700m (Meelmore just short when remeasured), starting and finishing at sea level in Donard Park. This brought an elite field over from across the water with some top names who are usually plying their trade in Snowdonia, the Peak & Lake districts and the Scottish Munros. Despite a chilly start to Saturday morning, the day stayed bright and clear, but there was an exposure risk on a few of the summits nevertheless.

After coming a fantastic 9th position at the 50KM Maurice Mullins Ultra in Wicklow a fortnight past, Alan Ritchie certainly had the training in the legs for the challenge. Opting for the Black Stairs to summit Donard by 52 mins, he made light work of the first 4 of the 7 and was over Meelmore in under 2 hours. However the crux of the race is the second half travelling down the bog from Meelbeg to Ben Crom Dam, then taking in the full Binnian ridge to the far summit only to turn back and lose the height gained. After a few minutes break on the way towards the final seven Lamagan, Alan made a superb attack on the contour round Cove and the rise over Slieve Beg to reach the saddle at 4hrs 30mins. 22 mins later he was at the pavilion finishing in a great 38th place and 4hrs 52mins. Continue reading