2022 Season Report
The overall winners of the nine race NIMRA Championship were Timothy Johnston (Mourne Runners) and Alice Flint(BARF). Second places in the Championship were filled by Adam Cunningham and Esther Dickson with Jonny Scott and Martsje Hell 3rd. Category winners were M40 Jonny Steede, M45 James Lappin, M50 Pete Grant, M55 Dale Mathers, M60 Paul Le Blanc & M70 Ricky Cowan. In the females the winners were F45 Karen Wilton, F50 Adele Tomb, F55 Aine McNeill and F65 Mary Mackin. 11 ladies completed the championship and 29 men.
Mourne Seven Sevens British Championship Race 9th April
NIMRA hosted this event being the first of the British Championship races. 163 finishers of the Seven Sevens route on a glorious dry, bright day with just 14 having pulled out at various stages but thankfully no serious injuries. Finlay Wild won while setting a new men’s record of 3 hrs 28minutes, just as the race organiser had predicted! Victoria Thompson from Helm Hill Harriers won the ladies race, with the top 4 women finishing in under 5 hours and within 6 minutes of each other.
First local runner was Adam Cunningham who came in 6th overall, with Steven Shields second local in just over 4 hours and 11th overall. Jonny Steede and Gary Bailey claimed the 2nd and 3rd MV40 prizes . In the ladies class Elizabeth Wheeler from Glen Runners put in an awesome performance to take 15th place overall.
Inter Counties – 7th May, Llanberis, Wales
As usual, the Inter-Counties challenge was a very competitive event, over a seven mile course. Timothy Johnson was first NI man home followed by Aaron McGrady, Jared Martin (U23), Jonny Scott and Adam Cunningham. The Men’s team finished 7th overall from 21 teams. In the ladies Martsje Hell had a great run to finish 22nd followed by Ciara Coffey, Debbie McConnell and Karalee McBride. The ladies finished 9th team overall from 14 teams.
Mourne Mountain Challenges
11 athletes completed the The Denis Rankin Round this year, covering all the 400metre tops, with 90km distance and 6500m climb. A number of athletes succeeded at the Cassies Challenge, covering 50 mountains, 58 miles and 6193m within 24 hours.
Slieve Donard Race
The Slieve Donard race is probably the oldest local mountain race, now in its 77th year. Defending champion Zak Hanna made light work of winning again in remarkable time of 48:44 minutes from Luke Russell 2nd . Alice Flint had a remarkable run to take 3rd overall in 59:28 minutes. Paul Rooney was 3rd and 2nd lady Diane Wilson and 3rd Martsje Hell.
Senior Home International – 7th May, Alva, Scotland
A female team of Martsje Hell, Elizabeth Wheeler, Karalee McBride and Ciara Coffey made the journey to compete in this tough 11.5 mile 3000ft ascent/descent. They all competed strongly and succeeded in securing the team bronze medal.
Snowdon International Mountain Race – 16th July
Our teams performed well in what turned out to be a very hot day. In order of finishing, the men’s team was Adam Cunningham, John Marrs, Andrew Tees & Jack Proctor and the ladies’ team comprised Elizabeth Wheeler, Esther Dickson, Martsje Hell and Karalee McBride.
World Masters Mountain Running Championships, Comeragh Mountains, Clonmel, Co Tipperary 3rd September.
A number of NIMRA runners made the journey to Clonmel to compete in this great event. Stand out results were Jim Patterson who won individual gold in M75 and team gold for GB & Northern Ireland. Ernest Hall also had a great run to come 6th in M70 and got team Silver. Anne Sandford in F55 category for GB & Northern Ireland secured Gold Team Medal. Aine McNeil came 8th in F55 and secured Team Silver for Ireland. Elizabeth Wheeler won an individual bronze in F45 and Team Gold for Ireland. Ruth Aiken and Karen Wilton secured team Bronze in F45 for GB & Northern Ireland. Alan Bogle got bronze individual medal and team bronze in M40 category. Nat Glenn also secured a Team Silver in M55 category for Ireland.
Junior Mountain Running
2022 saw the U18 International resume in Saluzzo, Italy, after its scaled back format in 2021 as the Home Countries International.
For many of the talented team that had been selected at the Trial on Slieve Croob, this was their first International Selection and their opportunity to wear the NI & Ulster vest, across the 4.35km distance, with a 155m ascent and descent.
The race started in the town square with a temperature of 33deg, and a rapid pace was required to negotiate a 3m pinch point 100m after the line, before a further 450m loop around the centre of Saluzzo, before runners went on a long 3.8km loop into the hillsides west of the town.
Once they had climbed the cobble streets, they had the novelty of racing through the corridor of a prison (now museum), through the exercise yard and into the woods of a private estate, opened specially for the athletes.
The climb summited with a lap of a vineyard, some further switchbacks in the woods before a last dash down the cobbles and into the town square for the finish.
The Girls’ team, consisted of Finn Valley AC’s Eimear McCarroll; Mid Ulster AC’s Niamh Campbell, Lagan Valley AC’s Jessica Blaney and Newry AC’s Eve Welsh, who all worked together to finish in 11th place overall with a total of 111 points.
The first NI & Ulster athlete across the line was Eimear McCarroll in a time of 21:09, following by Niamh Campbell, making her NI & Ulster debut and finishing in 23:13, with Jessica Blaney finishing in 23:42. Sadly Eve Welsh succumbed to the heat in the woods and had to withdraw from the race, though she was leading the N.I. team at that point.
The boys’ team, of North Down AC’s Ben Acheson; East Down AC Oliver Robinson; Newcastle & District AC’s Ethan McMullan and Slieve Gullion Runners’ Joshua Muckian finished in 13th place overall with 127 points in total.
Leading the way was Joshua Muckian, in a time of 19:05, while Ben Acheson finished in 19:55, followed by Oliver Robinson in 20:03 and Ethan McMullan in a time of 21:12.
Trial and Junior Home International
In August a trial was hosted at Scrabo, selecting 16 of the 17 athletes that were to travel to Ambleside for the Junior Home International, that also doubles as the British & Irish Championship.
In a two race format, the U17s started first, with Joshua Muckian of (Slieve Guillion Runners) leading the N.I. & Ulster contingent over the first climb, closely followed by Ben Acheson (North Down AC) and the four International debutants of Ciaran McCarroll (Finn Valley AC), Jacob Crawford (East Down AC), Ethan Isles (North Down AC) and Yasin Brannigan (Newcastle AC). This order stayed the same throughout with the exception of Jacob and Ethan who battled to and fro throughout the race, with Ethan getting the upper hand in the final descent, making his attack which gained a few positions in the final stages as they raced for the finish.
The girls were lead in the early stages by Katie Graham (Lagan Valley AC) making her debut for N.I. & Ulster, followed closely by another debutant Poppy Hastings (Mid Ulster AC) before the two girls who had competed in Italy passed, Eve Welsh and Niamh Campbell. Niamh sadly took a fall at a turn, which curbed her enthusiasm somewhat, but she gained a spot when her teammate Eve unfortunately took a wrong turn, being chased by spectators to call her back to the route. Poppy struggled to find a space to pass the girls in front, but finally made her move on the descent to finish a fantastic 12th.
U17 Junior Home International NI & Ulster Results
|Joshua Muckian 13th 23:56||Poppy Hastings 12th 27:21|
|Ben Acheson 15th 24:19;||Katie Graham 13th 28:05|
|Ethan Isles 18th 26:05||Niamh Campbell 15th 29:11|
|Jacob Crawford 19th 26:21;||Eve Welsh 16th 29:35|
Open Competition – Ciaran McCarroll 25:06 and Yasin Brannigan 29:03
The U20 started 45 mins later, with just shy of a 1km extension to the farthest point of the course. Sean McGinley (Finn Valley AC) set a blistering pace, sitting close behind the lead 4 through the middle section, with Tom Crudington (Newcastle AC) fresh from his stunning 11th at the European Championships next, before Ryan Smith (Annadale Striders) and the two Ethans, Ethan O’Kane (Unattached) and Ethan McMullan (Newcastle AC) came through. Sean kept the pace to finish really strongly in 5th, Tom, moving up to 8th, though frustrated in a race with energy levels lacking on the day. Ryan Smith came next achieving 14th, the 3rd counter, to add to the team result with Ethan McMullan, achieving Team Bronze in the process. Ethan O’Kane in his debut race, finished extremely strongly, gaining places in the latter stages of the race, showing real promise for next year in the mountains.
U20 Junior Home International NI & Ulster Results
|Sean McGinley 5th 25:02||Eimear McCarroll 9th 32:16|
|Tom Crudginton 8th 25:37||Ciara Savage 16th 37:30|
|Ryan Smith 14th 27:40|
|Ethan McMullan 20th 29:58|
Open Competition – Ethan O’Kane 29:09
Eimear McCarroll had finally seen off the injured ankle that had held her back in Italy, allowing her to put her fearless descending skills to good effect, finishing a fantastic 9th. Ciara Savage back for another year on the Ambleside hills ran strongly throughout, finishing in a really pleasing 37:30 on the long U20 course.
Ireland selection. NIMRA were delighted to have four of the six U20 athletes selected to represent Ireland at the U20 European Mountain Running Championships, coming from N.I. and Ulster. Those selected were: Tom Crudginton – Newcastle AC, Sean McGinley – Finn Valley AC, Ryan Smith – Annadale Striders, Amy Greene – Finn Valley AC. Tom had the most significant result, achieving 11th (28th place having been the highest recent result achieved by Tony McCambridge in 2019).
It was great to be back to a full calendar for junior athletes and NIMRA look forward to helping these athletes progress further in International competition in 2023. We would like to thank Catherine McIntosh and Tracy Savage (both Newcastle AC) and John Rogan (Finn Valley AC) for the assistance they provided Phil Hodge in managing these teams.