Podium4Sport NIMRA Championship Round 2: Donard Commedagh

Report by Ryan Maxwell
Photos by Jayne Bell

On Saturday 11th April 2015, seventy three mountain runners from across Northern Ireland turned out for the Donard-Commedagh Mountain Race in Newcastle, County Down.

Seamus starts out as he means to continue - No 1

Seamus starts out as he means to continue - No 1

Sam leads the chase whilst Paul looks pained

Sam leads the chase whilst Paul looks pained

Neil and David heading through the quarry

Neil and David heading through the quarry

Shane training for Tromso

Shane training for Tromso

The event, which started and finished in Donard Park measured 10.9k in distance with 1,050m of ascent and was the second race in the ongoing Podium4Sport Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Championship Series.

In bright and sunny conditions, the field set off from Donard Park and uphill towards the snow capped mountains, where they would head towards the summit of Northern Ireland's tallest mountain, Slieve Donard, before descending to 'the Col' and onwards, back uphill towards Slieve Commedagh – from there, the field negotiated their final descent back to Donard Park.

1st lady Shileen O'Kane making it look easy

1st lady Shileen O'Kane making it look easy

2nd lady on the prowl

2nd lady on the prowl

The in-form Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), winner of the first race in this years Series at Glenariff, reached the summit of Slieve Donard in 27:47. Sam Heron (Mourne Runners), David Steele (Newcastle AC), Deon McNeilly (Newcastle AC), Paul McAnespie (Armagh AC) and Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers) were all amongst the chasers. In the ladies race, Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC) led the way with Jacqui Toal (BARF), Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC), Anne Sandford (Lagan Valley AC) and Mourne Runners' Denise Mathers all in pursuit.

Donard Commedagh 2015 (92)

Donard Commedagh 2015 (103)

Snaking up out of the quarry

Snaking up out of the quarry

I want whatever this guy is eating for breakfast

I want whatever this guy is eating for breakfast

Seamus Lynch continued to dominate proceedings and climbed Slieve Commedagh impressively – his descent was just as notable and before long, the Newcastle AC athlete appeared through the tree line and into Donard Park. He covered the final downhill section with ease and broke the tape in 1:05:08 (1st place). Sam Heron was rewarded for his excellent performance with a 2nd place finish in 1:07:50, before Deon McNeilly narrowly beat club mate David Steele (4th place – 1:10:26) to 3rd place in 1:10:29.

Mourne Runners squadron

Mourne Runners squadron

The Goriila Dance

The Goriila Dance

Mr Hicks celebrates Neighbours 30th Anniversary

Mr Hicks celebrates Neighbours 30th Anniversary

Action Baby

Action Baby

Shileen O'Kane notched her second successive NIMRA Championship Series victory, when she clocked 1:22:26 (1st place) for top spot. Jacqui Toal showed the same kind of form that saw her claim a podium place in Wicklow recently to take the runners up prize in 1:30:39 (2nd place). Behind, the closest finish of the day was just about to unfold – friends Hazel McLaughlin and Denise Mathers raced through Donard Park side by side, but in the final metres, Hazel just edged it to cross the line in 1:33:37 (3rd place), with Denise recording 1:33:38 (4th place).

Donard Commedagh 2015 (256)

Donard Commedagh 2015 (295)

Over and above the overall prizes for podium and category places, there were also special prizes (sponsored by Hanna Brothers Kitchens) for the athletes who descended from the Commedagh to the finish at Donard Park in the quickest time. These prizes were secured by Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) and Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC).

Top 3 Men: 1st Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) – 1:05:08, 2nd Sam Heron (Mourne Runners) – 1:07:50, 3rd Deon McNeilly (Newcastle AC) – 1:10:26

Top 3 Ladies: 1st Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC) – 1:22:26, 2nd Jacqui Toal (BARF) – 1:30:39, 3rd Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) – 1:33:37

Donard Commedagh 2015 (310)

Easy

Easy

Tough brother

Tough brother

Hazel and Denise battle

Hazel and Denise battle

Donard Commedagh 2015 (352)

Jnr Deon :)

Jnr Deon 🙂

Duck

Duck

It's not all about hairy guys in vests

It's not all about hairy guys in vests

A full set of photos will be posted soon.

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