Locals take part in the North Face UTMB events

by Ryan Maxwell

Over the last few days (Wednesday 27th August to Sunday 31st August 2014), a number of Northern Ireland runners have taken part in events at the notoriously difficult Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc festival in Chamonix, France.

The action commenced on Wednesday (28th August 2013) when Dominic McInerney (Unattached), William Marks (Mourne Runners) and Brian Linton (BARF) completed the TDS (Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie), an 119km race with 7,250m of ascending. Dominic completed the course in 22:36:07 (132nd place), with William and Brian following in 26:26:51 (370th place) and 26:26:52 (371st place) respectively. Unfortunately, Donal O’Kane (BARF) was forced to withdraw from the event. The race was won by French athlete Xavier Thevenard in 14:10:37 (1st place).

The end of the TDS

The end of the TDS

Both the main UTMB and the CCC (Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix) races started on Friday 30th August 2013. The 101km (including 6,100m of ascending) CCC participants were first to finish, with East Coast AC’s Justin Maxwell leading the NI contingent home in an excellent 14:56:41 (43rd place). Nicki McPeake (Springwell Running Club) was the next familiar face to finish in 17:33:40 (164th place), before Susan McCartney recorded 19:22:44; this was enough to see the Mourne Skyline MTR entrant claim 22nd place in the ladies accutane category. BARF’s Martin Mullan reached Chamonix a mere two seconds later in 19:22:46 (317th place), while Mark King (Newcastle AC), completed the local interest in the CCC when he completed the course in 21:32:35 (542nd place). Team Buff athlete Paul Bartolo claimed victory in the men’s race, breaking the tape in 11:21:16 (1st place), while Anne Lise Rousset (Team Race Land) took the ladies title in 14:28:48 (1st place).

In the even more gruelling UTMB main event, which saw competitors cover 168km (with 9,600m of ascending), Dale Mathers (Newry City Runners), who ran well in this event in 2013, covered the distance in 32:54:27 (196th place). The ever consistent Paul Nesbitt (Unattached) had a good run to finish in 39:29:53 (628th place); despite having been on his feet for nearly two day’s, unattached athlete Stephen Wallace, found the energy to produce a fast finish, crossing the line in 41:58:49 (891st place). Craig Lloyd was the final local athlete to experience the atmospheric finish when he crossed the line in 44:29:42 (1,263rd place). Unfortunately, Denise Mathers (Newry City Runners) and Declan Faulkner (Knockmany Runners) were forced to withdraw from the event with illness. The race was won by Team Salomon’s Francois D’Haene in 20:11:44 (1st place).

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