Category – Medium
Distance – 10 miles
Elevation – 2200ft +/- (approx)
Everyone at East Coast Athletic Club would like to invite NIMRA members and fellow fell runners to the running of the Cairncastle Classic Fell Race. The route will provide many different challenges, regardless of ability and take in a lot of the classic running routes around the famous Sallagh Braes and north coast skyline.
The event base will be at Ballygally, a coastal village, 5 miles north of Larne. A community hall, car parking and toilet facilities will be available only metres away from the start line.
Description of the most efficient route:
The race will start on Ballygally Beach. Participants will follow the Cairncastle Road, uphill, in a westerly direction for 1 mile (roughly the same gradient as Slievenaman Road, Co Down), passing one of County Antrim’s oldest and most iconic public houses ‘Matties Meeting House’. After the road section, the course continues uphill on a farmers track which leads onto the fells and the well-known ‘face’ of Knockdhu. Upon reaching the summit, runners will turn south west and run along the edge of the Sallagh Braes to Check Point 1 (located at a stile)– offering superb views of the countryside, Larne lough and hopefully Scotland (in favourable weather). From Check Point 1, runners will negotiate a short but tricky descent to the valley floor and Check Point 2, where many scenes from the cult American drama Game of Thrones were filmed. From CP2 there is a gradual ascent along a rough tractor path, in a southerly direction, onto the Antrim Hills way and subsequently the turning point at Check Point 3. From CP3 runners will retrace their steps in a northerly direction and onward to Check Point 4, at the well-known Linford Car Park. From Linford Car Park, it’s a long but gradual climb to the final summit, Scawt Hill (CP5). From the scenic Scawt summit, it’s practically all downhill to the shoreline, initially on fell, before joining a rocky tractor path (CP6) and onto the coast road at ‘The Half Way House’, a hotel/restaurant owned by legendary Irish boxer Dave Boy McAuley. From this point, it’s a flat run back to the Ballygally Beach, passing Ballygally Castle (reputed to be the oldest occupied building in Ireland) en-route to finish line.
In terms of marking, only the road junctions and the farmers paths will have minimal marking, to prevent trespassing or damage to property.