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Weekly roundup 29/04/24. Hill & Dale Race 3 – Slieve Martin, Irish Road Relay Championships – Raheny, Ulster District Schools track & field, Highland Fling Ultra

Hill & Dale Race 3, Slieve Martin 25/04/24

11 North Down AC members were among the 315 runners tackling the toughest race yet of the Hill & Dale series on Thursday 25th April. The difficulty levels of the previous 2 races in Castlewellan and Tollymore Forest Parks were notched up by several degrees as this course brought runners onto exposed mountain sides with steeper ascents and descents and little time to enjoy the views over Carlingford Lough towards the setting sun over Warrenpoint. A heavy hailstorm shortly before registration ended in Rostrevor reminded competitors why the race organisers from Newcastle AC require them to carry full body cover before racing onto the  exposed mountain sides. Fortunately the hailstones passed and all the runners warmed up quickly as within the first couple of hundred metres a single file of runners began the climb through forest trails to exposed mountain side and eventually the summit of Slieve Martin. On rounding the summit cairn after more than 500m of vertical ascent the burn in the runners’ calf muscles switched to their quads as they tackled the fast descent on grassy trails then forest paths again back to the start/finish line to complete the loop of approximately 7km. 

David McKeague was the first of the club’s runners back in 20th place overall in 42:49 taking 2nd place in the M45 race. Clair Quigley was 2nd F45 in 52:30 followed by Matt Ormesher 58:12, Claire Scott 59:37 and Gerard Adair 1:00:07. June McMinn 1:01:10 claimed 1st F65 while Glynis Boyle 1:02: 35 was 2nd F60 finishing ahead of Donald Smith 1:03:53 and Trevor Patterson 1:08:13. John Adgey made a welcome return to the Hill & Dale races, demonstrating  his speed and technical skills in the mountains as he claimed 1st M80 in 1:11:12 and Ian McCreary rounded off the NDAC finishers in 1:13:42.

June McMinn, Donald Smith, Clair Quigley, Claire Scott, Trevor Patterson, Glynis Boyle, John Adgey, Matt Ormesher, Gerard Adair


Heather Gyle & Ian McCreary
Clair Quigley, David McKeague, Claire Scott

Irish Road Relay Championships, Raheny 28/04/24

North Down AC’s fastest road racers demonstrated the strength in depth of their teams, as well as superb individual performances, at the Irish Road Relay Championships in Raheny on Sunday 28th April. With teams of 4 racing against the top clubs from across the island of Ireland the NDAC A team of Daniel Dines, Ethan Isles, Craig McMeechan and Finn Johnson finished in 12th place, just 17 seconds short of the club record while the B team of Oliver Playfair, Dean Varley, Jamie McMeechan and Chris Moran took 1 minute 20 seconds of the previous best performance by the B team, finishing in 22nd place.

In the senior women’s race the North Down trio of Rebekah Laffin, Katie Moore and Rachel Gibson all ran strongly to secure 14th position.

Oliver Playfair, Chris Moran, Finn Johnson, Jamie McMeechan, Francis Marsh, Craig McMeechan, Dean Varley, Daniel Dines, Ethan Isles
Rebekah Laffin, Katie Moore, Rachel Gibson

Ulster Schools Track & Field A District District, MPT 25/04/24

The Highland Fling, West Highland Way 27/04/24
Donald Smith recovered from the London Marathon last weekend just in time to tackle the Highland Fling ultra on Saturday 27th April. The Fling is a little longer than 2 marathons and climbs more than 2000m along  the first 53 miles  of the West Highland Way from Milngavie to Tyndrum. Over 600 ultrarunners assembled in the car park at Milngavie railway station for a briefing from race director Jonny Duncan, better known to runners as Jonny Fling, atop his van which is freshly painted for each race , before a countdown from 10 to be started with the phrase contained in all pre-race communications, “Ding Ding!”  The early morning frost meant most runners stayed well wrapped up for the first few miles as they headed towards Drymen before the trails became more technical as they approached Loch Lomond with an ascent of Conic Hill at Balmaha. As runners caught their breath at the top of Conic they paused to admire the stunning views of the many islands  in Loch Lomond and beyond the most southerly of the Munros, Ben Lomond, they could see  the snow capped Munros of the Trrossachs and Argyll and the Highlands beyond. The beautiful scenery, superb race volunteers, well stocked aid stations, long horned feral goats , Highland cattle and the calls of songbirds and cuckoos in forests where North Down AC  colours were replicated in shaded carpets of primrose and bluebells. Anyone who’s walked the West Highland Way  will be familiar with the difficult, technical sections of trail along the loch side after the Inversnaid Hotel  and most athletes weren’t moving much faster than the hikers with their backpacks and camping gear for the next few miles. Beyond Ardlui as runners left Loch Lomond behind to climb towards Beinglas and Crianlarich, the temperature plummeted and heavy sleet and hail tested everyone’s mandatory waterproof safety kit. Conditions brightened up before the final climb through Glen Bogle and the steep descent to the A82 road crossing and the final 5km to the finish line where 2 pipers piped each runner around the final bend and onto the red carpet to the finish line where hot food, hot showers, hot coffee and cold beer awaited the finishers. Donald finished his third Highland Fling in his course PB of 12:30:40, also completing his 150th race of marathon or greater distance.  More than 12% of starters failed to complete the race through injury or missing time cut offs along the route.