Hill and Dales 2013: Tollymore Report
For the second week running the weather leading up to Hill and Dales party was standard issue Irish summer time; wet and grey. Despite the conditions 54 juniors and 236 seniors signed on for some mud, sweat and tears.
Starting in the field beneath the lower car park. The course headed out the trail towards the mountain centre before turning down onto the upper river path out to Parnell’s Bridge. In a change to recent times runners did not cross at Parnell’s but headed out to the new wooden footbridge which led to the first climb along the wall. Once up this first section combatants headed downhill briefly before taking the fire break up through the trees. This led to a path which was a fast descent to the bottom of the final, and most significant, climb of the day. This last climb was all on a damp muddy path in the trees. Once you ‘topped out’ the path continued on a downward direction, crossing logs and walls along the way, before spitting you out onto the long, long, zig zag path which led you all the way to short sharp climb up Azalea Walk. By the finish participants had logged 5.5 hard miles and 900 feet of painful climbing.
Last years series champion, Andrew Annett, is currently out injured and Diane Wilson was not present. In their absence there were still plenty of big names lining up to have a go at the prize. In the men’s race you had Ian Bailey (Newcastle), AlIan Bogle (City of Derry AC), Deon McNeilly (NAC), Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers) and Stevie Cunningham (Mourne Runners). The ladies was headed by series regulars Shileen O’Kane and Anne Stanford.
From the start the pace was hot and over the climbs the front runners started to breakaway with Bailey, Bogle, McNeilly and Carty leading the way in the men’s race and O’Kane taking command in the ladies. At the finish Bailey finishing strongly followed by Bogle then Carty. In the ladies O’Kane took the honours followed by Stanford and Taryn McCoy.
The series moves to Rostrevor and a race over Slieve Martin. Competitors should note that as this is moving away from being solely based on forest trails they should bring a compass, whistle and full body cover as they may be required if the conditions are not tip top.