2013 Season Preview

As the bright nights start to peek out of the winter duvet it is time to get ready for the new mountain running season.  There are a lot of exciting events planned for this year including the World Police and Fire games, the classics, the Hill and Dales, some new races and the three championships.  After record attendances at the festive races it promises to be a great year for running off piste.

The World Police and Fire games touches down in Belfast on August 1st.  There are expected to be 10,000 competitors made up from people who have served, or are serving, in the Police, Fire and Prison services.  On August 3rd, as part of the games, NIMRA will be hosting a mountain race over Donard and Commedagh and a trail race on the Granite Trail.  This promises to be a massive international event and we are looking forward to playing our part.

This year the Irish leg of the British Championship will be held at Silent Valley.  The 9.5 mile long race starts in the Valley and takes in the peaks of Moolieve, Binnian, Doan, Carn, Muck and Slievenaglogh.  There is a lot of spectacular scenery on route, but with vital championship points at stake and a top class field from all over the Great Britain it is unlikely that most competitors will get a chance to savour it.

The prestigious NIMRA championship will tackle some of the classics: Annalong Horseshoe (L), Seven Sevens (L), Silent Valley (M), Flagstaff to Carlingford (M), Slieve Bearnagh (s) and Slieve Gullion (S).  To get a result in the series you must take part in one short, medium and long race. This is the Ballan D’or of the Northern Irish mountain running scene.  To win it you need great mountain craft, the will to suffer and a lot of athletic prowess.

The NIMRA Grand Prix is a competition for those who love to race in the hills all season long.  This year your final position will be based on your best six races from the following: Glenariff, Silent Valley, Donard Downhill, Tollymore Race, Commedagh Chase, The Fallows, Slieve Donard and Slieve Gallion.

The increasingly popular Hill and Dales returns after Easter.  The 11 race series is much the same as last year with the exception being that the Monument race is rested; this is being replaced by Hen and Cock.  For anyone who fancies trying their hand at mountain running these events are a great initiation.  The series starts on forest trails and gradually becomes more mountainous.  Once again there is something for all the family with kids races being arranged for Castlewellan, Millstone and Hen / Cock.

An old event being resurrected is the Commedagh Chase.  It  is an out and back affair which starts at the end of the lane at Meelmore Lodge.  Competitors set off across the flank of Slieve Meelmore to cross the ford on Trassey Track and head up to the stile on Slievenaglogh.  The race follows the ridge to the top of Slieve Commedagh and then it is a flat out run back.

Also making a welcome return to the calendar is a race on Cavehill.  The 10km route consists of forest trails and open mountain taking runners from the Model school, over Napoleon’s Nose towards Hightown Road and back.  This is a chance for those based in the city to get one over on the mountain running family with home advantage firmly in their court.

As ever the season warms up with a gallop over Slieve Gullion, followed by the Glenariff ‘potato’ race.  These events are easy to navigate and incorporate trail and open mountain.  They make for a good hill running initiation for beginners and, for the more jaded amongst us, a chance to see who did some training over the winter.  We look forward to seeing plenty of new and familiar faces there.

Do you fancy having a go?

You should be aware that the terrain can vary from forest trails to exposed ground.  It is essential that you are equipped appropriately.  For further advice please see the Beginner Advice Page.

Richard Bell

You may also like...