Hanna and Dickson triumph at Slieve Donard Race
On Saturday just over a hundred runners took on the Classic Slieve Donard Race hosted by Newcastle AC. Over the years the course has been modified from starting at the Town hall to starting in Donard Park or going via Bloody Bridge. The main challenge is still to climb to the top as fast as you can followed by a fast decent. This year like last will see the runners head to the saddle before ascending to the summit, the descent to hit the quarry and anyway you like to the finish line at the road to the YMCA center.
Sounds straightforward but add in a humid day and the climb to the summit would be anything but easy. Zak Hanna who had been racing in Europe over the past few months would reach the top in an astonishing time of 32mins 16 secs almost 3 mins ahead of Tom Crudgington who summited in second place. In third Timothy Johnston set about his chase showing his tremendous technical downhill skills he would pass Crudgington and come close to Hanna who was taking a few detours on his way to victory.
With the men’s podium sorted the women’s podium was on a knife edge at the Donard summit as Esther Dickson and Heidi Davies would reach the top within 5 seconds of each other. Behind them Diane Wilson summitted in third place ready for the chase to the finish. Esther is another fantastic descender and in a mere 18mins would cross the finish line to take the victory. To appreciate how good a descent time it was there were only 4 other runners who would descend faster than that. The battle for second would see Diane Wilson catch Heidi by the quarry and have a strong finish to claim second. Heidi who hadn’t even seen Slieve Donard in the flesh last week had a brilliant debut run to complete the podium.
Behind the sharp end of the racing there were some excellent efforts, one birthday girl snatching a pb, some people showing they go faster downhill than uphill, proof that age is just and a number and finally a magical performance from all the marshals and helpers from Newcastle Ac who made the race possible.
This was the 8th race in the NIMRA championship with the final race being Buzzards Roast on the 25th Sept.