Crutchley and Graham take the Tower
SCRABO HILL RACE REPORT 2023
This year’s Scrabo Hill Race represented the 10th round of the NIMRA championship and 103 athletes toed the line on Thursday night to do battle over the 4 mile route, packing in 1200ft of ascent as they went. Despite the recent monsoon season it remained dry throughout the race with only the odd puddle or slippery rock to contend with.
In the men’s race Ashley Crutchley (U/A) established a 20 second lead at the end of the 1st lap over a pursuing group containing Josh McAtee (Mourne Runners), Andrew Tees (BARF), Keith Johnston (Armagh AC) and another group with Adam Cunningham (Mourne Runners), James Millar (Mourne Runners), Luke Donnelly (Carmen Runners) and Glyn Johnston (BARF) at 30 seconds. Entering the last section of the course, Crutchley had a lead of approx 30 seconds which he maintained to the finish line to take the win in 28min 51sec.
Behind came a tight group of McAtee, Tees, Cunningham, Luke O’Doherty (Mid Ulster AC) and Donnelly fighting for the remaining podium positions. Cunningham (after kindly lending a spare pair of his runners to Aine McNeill after she turned up with 2 right feet!) pushed hard to take 2nd place and just pip his team-mate McAtee by a few seconds. Tees was next across the line just a further 15seconds behind and in front of the strong finishing junior in the shape of Luke O’Doherty.
The ladies race was also a very close-fought affair with only a couple of seconds separating Katie Graham (Lagan Valley AC), Bernadette O’Kane (Springwell Running Club), Tanya Cumming (Willowfield Harriers), Alexa James (Carmen Runners) and Eimear McCarroll (Finn Valley AC) during the first lap. However Graham extended this over the 2nd lap to take the win by 1 minute in a time of 34min 34sec, followed by a strong finishing McCarroll and Cumming rounding out the podium.
It was great to see so many junior athletes getting stuck in and producing some very impressive performances. 6 of the male U18 runners featured in the top 20 overall. Katie Graham winning the women’s overall category is a superb result for the 16 year old and shows she is a force to be reckoned with.
Similarly, at only 15 years of age Luke O’Doherty was able to mix it with the seasoned campaigners and bag 5th place overall. The race was also used for selection purposes for the upcoming British & Irish Junior Championships (U17 and U20 age categories).
The organisers wish to thank all the athletes for supporting this race and hope it represented a challenging test worthy of the championship. Word of appreciation to NIEA for continuing to accommodate us at Scrabo Country Park and a final thanks to all the volunteers from the host club Ballydrain Harriers.