Exfoliating race on Donard
The tops of the Mourne Mountains were clear on what was another topsy turvy May day with a mixture of sunshine, rain and hail. 138 enthusiastic runners signed on for the gruelling feat that is running from the Tropicana pool in the centre of Newcastle to the top of Donard and back.
On the start line a mobile disco guy in a gold jacket built up the tension by piping out 2001: A Space Odyssey loud enough that I am sure the marshalls on the top of Donard could hear it. As expected the start was quick with top guys putting everyone into the red before they have even started going uphill.
Ian Bailey crossing the Glen River (pic Hugh Suffern)
As the runners came out of Donard Wood the pecking order had already been established with Ian Bailey crossing the Glen river first, followed by Alan Bogle and Stevie Cunningham. After a number of days of heavy rain the Black stairs were very wet; this led to some interesting scrambling manoeuvres as the race filtered through.
Whilst tackling the climb from the Black Stairs to the summit the tell tale sign of a hail storm appeared with a sprinkling of ominously large stones peppering the ground. Seconds later it was a full on exfoliating session that people would pay good money for in the Donard Hotel and Spa. This combined with strong cross winds and soggy ground made for a tough climb.
At the top Ian Bailey was first man up in just over 39 minutes, followed a minute later by Alan Bogle. It was another minute back to Stevie Cunningham and David McNeilly.
By this time the weather had cleared and it was all stations go for a fast descent. Once again Bailey showed his superior form with the fastest descent of the day. He was followed by Bogle and Cunningham who managed to shake McNeilly as they plummeted down the mountain.
As Ian Bailey ran along the promenade to the finish he had time to celebrate his well deserved win for the host club with the many spectators that lined the streets.
In the ladies race Diane Wilson had a strong climb and had built a clear lead on her rival Shileen O’Kane. This coupled with a fast descent meant that Diane starts out the Irish Championship as the leading lady as she looks to take the title once again.
Thanks to Newcastle AC for hosting a great event.