Race Over The Glens, Glenariff 01/01/24

Usually runners at Race Over The Glens in the stunningly beautiful surroundings of Glenariff Forest park are able to celebrate being the first runners to race on 1st January, but this year North Down AC’s Donald Smith and Les Wilkinson were beaten to that claim by Seán Nickell who was finishing his 24 hour run which began at midday on 31st December as they lined up in the frosty surroundings of the forest park for the annual New Year’s Day race among 441 runners. As with the Castlewellan Christmas Cracker the route and distance of this race changes each year but some constants remain; the bagpiper playing a haunting lament as runners reach the top of the first steep climb, the Ballymena Runners AC Christmas tree above the waterfall decorated with tinsel, baubles and old running shoes and the seemingly unending ascents and descents on either side of the glen. This year’s course was 10k and included more than 350m of ascent. Donald Smith finished in 54:56, just ahead of Les Wilkinson in 55:00. Les also claimed 2nd place in the M65 category.