Glenariffe Mountain Race March 2022 – Race Report
It felt like a lifetime since the last mass spud collection had taken place, but finally the NIMRA championship short race rolled back into town (well, village!)
This year the Glenariffe Mountain race (Spud Run) had a cap of 150 entries, which was reached well before the closing deadline. Preparations for race day had gone to plan, course marked, spuds dug and Glenariffe Recreation & Community Centre gleaming! Race hosts, Glens Runners, were delighted to welcome back mountain runners from over 30 clubs, and a new IMRA contingent in tow. On race day, the weather couldn’t have been kinder, despite the heavy rain in the days before. The sun was shining and views of Scotland were a welcoming sight to those who were warming up on the beach. Pre-race buzz was a mixture of excitement, anticipation and footwear decisions. The race was setting up nicely to be a cracker!
During race briefing Jonny Steede, race director, provided some directions “run around the pitch, cross some fields and pick up the Ulster way”. It seemed to do the job going by the nodding heads but perhaps runners were just keen to get going.
It was Mourne men, Jonathan Scott, Timothy Johnston and Adam Cunningham leading the field at the Glen Road crossing. They were followed by local man John Marrs (Glens Runners) and new BARF member Jonathan McCloy. With previous ladies’ winner Esther Dickson absent from today’s race it was difficult to look beyond Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers) as the hot favourite. But, lo and behold first to appear at the Glen Road crossing was in purple! Who was this new flying machine? BARF seemed to have signed up some new talent over the winter, who we now know as Alice Flint. She was followed by Martsje, Elizabeth Wheeler (Glens Runners) and Karalee McBride (Glenmore AC) who were all in great shape after the winter break. At the front of the pack, Timothy Johnston went by Jonathan Scott on the climb and began to pull away, with Adam Cunningham just a little further back. Coming off the mountain Timothy maintained his lead and powered on to take his first ever Spud Run victory in 44:04. Jonathan Scott was second in 45:21 and Adam Cunningham third in 46.13. Local Glens’ man, John Marrs, received the prestigious first Vet category prize of the “wooden bowl” (fifth place).
The ladies’ race saw a battle on the climb with Martsje being the first lady to reach the summit. However, Alice stormed down the descent and onto the river path regaining her lead resulting in her maiden Spud Run race victory in 51:44 (and an outstanding 12th place overall.) Martsje finished strong in second place, 53:56, with Elizabeth Wheeler taking third in 55:55.
The atmosphere was great at the finish line with no one in too much of a hurry to leave. Most were keen to welcome in other runners and reminisce about the pleasure/pain they had just experienced. Jonny Steede promised everyone that post-race refreshments would be back on next year and thanked Glenariffe Recreation & Community Centre, North West Mountain Rescue, Glens Runners and local landowners for all the commitment and support required to host such a successful event.
This race holds a special memory as being the last competitive race before lockdown and we are delighted to see it back and more popular than ever. Everyone went home happy with their spuds, which were so generously donated by race sponsors, Glens of Antrim Potatoes.