Maxwell storms the HOKA Highland Fling 2014
Report by Ryan Maxwell
On Saturday 26th April 2014, a number of athletes from Northern Ireland took part in one of the UK’s best known ultra-distance events, the HOKA Highland Fling in Scotland.
The prestigious event, which incorporated the Scottish Ultra-Running Championships, saw over eight hundred athletes take on a 53 mile section of the stunning West Highland Way from Milngavie to Tyndrum.
East Coast AC’s Justin Maxwell produced the performance of the day, working his way through the field as the race progressed, before claiming a well-deserved podium place. The Northern Ireland international, who won the Wicklow Way Ultra last month (March 2014), secured 2nd place after completing the 53 mile route (which incorporates 2,000m of ascent) in 7:46:36. Titanic 101k winner, Nicki McPeake (Springwell Running Club) was the next local athlete to complete the gruelling course, recording 8:28:29 for 11th place.
Billy Reed (East Antrim Harriers) and Eoin Lennon (Unattached) finished a mere sixteen seconds apart, both looking reasonably fresh as they crossed the line in 8:40:04 (19th place) and 8:40:20 (20th place) respectively. Respected Newry City Runners athlete Dale Mathers claimed second place in his Vet50 category after running 8:52:12 (24th place), while a happy Phil Hodge (Murlough AC) ran 9:28:23 (45th place). Richard McLernon (Unattached) and Dominic McInerney (Murlough AC) also broke the infamous ten hour barrier, with Richard finishing in 9:43:41 (66th place) and Dominic 9:49:57 (80th place).
Experienced ultra-distance athlete Gerry Kingston (BARF) covered the distance in 10:10:46 (110th place) and was joined in the atmospheric finish area by Newcastle AC’s Mark King (129th place – 10:25:14) a short time later. Aaron Shimmons (BARF) smashed his twelve hour target, when he crossed the line in 10:45:33 (164th place); BARF club mate, Martin Mullan followed in 11:09:24 (211st place). After a short break in familiar faces, Harry McAlinden (Unattached) clocked 11:34:11 (264th place). LVO’s Declan McGrellis (336th place – 12:15:47) and Springwell Running Club’s Andy Deal (348th place – 12:25:20) finished just ahead of the leading Northern Ireland lady, Violet Linton (LVO), who ran 12:29:25 (356th place). BARF duo Fred Hammond and Dawson Stelfox completed an excellent day for the Northern Ireland contingent in 13:35:05 (476th place) and 13:45:11 (490th place) respectively.