Muck, Mist and Mayhem on Slieve Gullion
After a few weeks of spring like weather winter returned for the start of the hill running season. This morning was standard issue Irish weather; brisk, wet and gray. The grim conditions did not deter the fell running family and there was a great turn out on the start line.
The race instructions were simple; run up the through the forest, hit the open mountain, go through the first manned checkpoint, run on the ridge from there to the second checkpoint at the cairn, reverse on the ridge back to the first checkpoint and then run anyway you like to the finish. Sounds pretty straightforward – right?
The first stretch of this race is on forest trails and from the gun the pace was electric. Jonny Steede led the way followed by Deon McNeilly, Paul McAnespie and Stephen Cunningham. The chasing group was not hanging around either and it was a leg burning start.
As the climb progressed onto the mucky grassy stretch up through the trees the lactic acid brakes were applied and the speed dropped in the bunch. Coming out onto the mountain it was apparent that the final stretch was not going to be easy. The top of Gullion is never pretty and today was no exception. The going could only be described as soft to flat out bog. If muck and mist is your thing you were in luck.
On the mountain the Steede had 30 or 40 seconds on the group containing McNeilly, McAnespie and Cunningham. It was in the mist that the mayhem started to happen. The marshalls who should have been augmentin 250mg standing at the turn to the ridge were out of position on a cairn to the right. The Steede being a law abiding citizen headed in their direction and then proceeded to descend. The other leaders went to the correct cairn. This meant that the runners heading up the hill were amazed to see Jonny with a good couple of minute lead on everyone else. Sadly for Jonny this navigating mishap saw him disqualified from the race. In the chasers Stevie Cunningham started laying down the law on the descent and had a good lead on McNeilly and McAnespie. On the relatively short descent last years NIMRA champion, Cunningham, managed to hold off the chasers to take his first victory in this years NIMRA championship. In the ladies race last years NIMRA champion Shileen O’Kane edged out the current Irish champion Diane Wilson.
At the time of ‘going to press’ it is not clear what happened further back in the field. The mist and muck conspired to cause mayhem. Even reserved pedigree navigator Jim Patterson, with his 35 years of hilling running excellence, ended up on the wrong summit. He wasn’t the only one and bodies were spread out all over the hill.
Thanks to Armagh AC for putting on the event and laying on refreshments and the prize giving in Mullaghbawn afterwards. Big shout out to all the keen runners who turned up to embrace the elements.
Next week the party moves to Waterfoot and the Glenariff ‘Potato’ Race – preview to follow. We hope to see you all there.
Provisional Slieve Gullion Results