Bailey and O’Kane win at Spelga Skyline
Photos by Billy Mol
On Saturday round 6 of the Podium4Sport NIMRA Championship took place on the Spelga Skyline course. This 13 mile test in the west of the Mournes covers numerous peaks and 1900 metres of climbing.
The infamous Mourne clag made an unwelcome return in the morning. This meant that the first test for competitors was successfully finding the start area when visibility was down to 10 feet. The trauma of the drive up was too much for some and the last that was seen of Neil Carty, Colm Murtagh and Barry McConville was the tail lights on their cars as they headed for the comfort of their homes.
When the race started the Bailey brothers led the race up Butter mountain with Clive at the front. On the top of the hill Clive reports that the mist was so bad that he was unsure as to which way go. If you know this hill, you will know it is pretty easy to navigate, so that should give you an idea as to the scale of challenge.
The race continued over to Meelbeg with Clive still leading at the top. At this point he took a bad line and went too low which allowed Gary into the lead.
When Clive tried to contour around Carn he thought he was doing well using his altimeter to stay at the same height to discover that he had managed to circle back on himself and had contoured back to the wall at the foot of Meelbeg.
As the race crossed the road the at Deers Meadow the fog had now lifted and everyone was being baked alive by strong sun. Gary had 3 minutes on Clive and Clive had 5 minutes on the chasing pack.
Gary managed to maintain the lead going over Monghanmore and Pierces, but the wheels came off when he decided to avoid the straight line off Rocky and doubled back on himself for a cleaner running line. This allowed Clive into pole position which he held going over the last two climbs.
Further back in the field a couple of young fit mountain runners from Ballymena tried to take on the veteran force that is Jim Patterson (V65) only to lose out. It is reported that one of these runners was that overcome by the challenge that he lay down in the track by Hen and called a passing family for help. Once they had given him their child’s juice drink he was able to continue to the finish with his dignity far from intact.
In the ladies race Shileen O’Kane continued her great season with a winning performance which makes her this seasons ladies NIMRA champion. It should be noted that Shileen is not noted for her navigating prowess so the challenge of the fog and the western Mournes is likely to have been giving her nightmares before the start of the race. I am told by reliable informants that she found her way by running with a certain BARF runner. This takes nothing away from Shileen’s great run of form this season – Congratulations to the new NIMRA champ.
The next race in the NIMRA Championship is the Seven Sevens on August 15th. You can pre-enter this race here for 15 pounds. Pre-entry closes on July 26th. There will be on the day entry for 20 pounds.
More photos here.