NIMRA Prize Giving 2014
by Ryan Maxwell (NIRunning)
The annual prize-giving function for the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) took place on Saturday November 23rd in O’Hares, Newcastle. The event celebrated the 2014 mountain running season with prizes being handed out for the NIMRA Championship. This year the Series comprised of three short, three medium and three long races and each athlete’s best five results, which had to include at least one short, medium and long event, were assigned Championship points.
Impressive wins at Glenariff, Commedagh Chase, Annalong Horseshoe, Flagstaff to Carlingford and the Spelga Skyline event meant that Jonny Steede of Ballymena Runners was the Overall Male winner of the 2014 Championship. Although pushed throughout the season by Newcastle AC’s Seamus Lynch, Jonny won all of the Championship races he competed in; with numerous second places finishes under his belt, Seamus (Lynch) went on to take the honours at Loughshannagh and the Classic Seven Sevens, to secure the runners up spot in the 2014 Series. Sam Heron (Mourne Runners) completed an impressive season finishing in 3rd place overall. Sam’s results at Annalong Horseshoe (2nd place), Seven Sevens (2nd place) and ultimately the Slieve Bearnagh race (1st place), as well as good runs at Commedagh Chase and Loughshannagh secured the final podium place for the Mourne Runners athlete.
As far as the ladies go, 2013 Champion and winner of the Glenariff, Slieve Commedagh, Annalong Horseshoe, Loughshannagh, Flagstaff to Carlingford and Slieve Bearnagh races, Diane Wilson of Dromore AC was again the outright Champion in 2014. Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) started the 2014 campaign off well, with 2nd place finishes at the first five events of the season, before a bad wrist injury at the Flagstaff to Carlingford race put an early end to the International’s season. Luckily, Shileen had recorded her five counting races, enough to secure another second place finish in the Championship. Hazel McLaughlin, another Lagan Valley AC athlete, took the final position on the Championship podium. Hazel (McLaughlin) showed a variety of strengths as she raced to podium places at Commedagh Chase (3rd place), Seven Sevens (2nd place) and The Fallows (3rd place). Those performances and good placing at Glenariff and Slieve Bearnagh secured the 3rd place in the ladies overall standings.
The new Championship series again included various categories prizes, for both male and female participants.
In the Men’s Vet 40 competition it was Ballymena Runners’ Alex Brennan who took the top prize. Alex (Brennan) has enjoyed a memorable season, having impressed both on and off the mountain. Good results at Slieve Bearnagh (4th place) and The Fallows (2nd place) cemented his position at the head of this category. Clive Bailey (Mourne Runners) was runner up in the category, having completed the required amount of races, most notably a well calculated 3rd place at Seven Sevens and also a 3rd place finish over the faster Fallows course. Mark Alexander (Ballymena Runners) made it two Ballymena based athletes on the MV40 podium with an excellent 3rd place finish. In the Ladies Vet 40 category, no athletes completed enough (five) events to be in contention. However, both Laura Smith (Larne AC) and Violet Linton (LVO) took three category wins throughout the season.
The Men’s Vet 45 category was never in doubt, with the evergreen North Belfast Harriers member Neil Carty taking maximum points at Glenariff (3rd place overall), Commedagh Chase, Annalong Horseshoe, Loughshannagh and Flagstaff to Carlingford amongst others. Pete Grant (Team Purple) took 2nd place in the overall Series respectively having completed every Championship race. Andy Gregg (Larne AC) was in third place. The Overall Series winner, Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) also sealed the Ladies Vet 45 prize, having led the FV45 runners home in each of her aforementioned race wins. Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) claimed 2nd place in this category. No other FV45 competitors completed the Series. However, it is worth noting that long distance specialist Denise Mathers (Newry City Runners), a FV45, completed 4 events and won the longer races at Spelga Skyline and the Seven Sevens events.
Newcastle AC’s Deon McNeilly, who produced a top class performance at the Mourne Skyline MTR, took the honours in the Men’s Vet 50 category, on the back of notable performances at The Fallows (1st place) and Annalong Horseshoe (3rd place). Good runs at Commedagh Chase, Loughshannagh, Flagstaff to Carlingford and Spelga Skyline ensured the renowned mountain athlete retained the MV50 prize. Dale Mathers (Newry City Runners) completed the Championship Series with a run around the ‘medium distance’ Fallows course, as course director, whilst carrying an injury picked up during his ‘tour of Mont Blanc’ in August (2014). Dale’s performances earlier in the season at Glenariff, Loughshannagh, Spelga Skyline, Seven Sevens and Slieve Bearnagh ensured that despite this set back the well-respected athlete took 2nd place in the final standings. David Bell (Mourne Runners) completed six of the nine Championship races to finish 3rd place in this category. No Ladies Vet 50 competitors finished the Championship Series.
In the Men’s Vet 60 category it was 2013 winner Stewart Cunningham (Mourne Runners) who retained the title in 2014. Stewart competed to his usual high standard with good runs at Glenariff, Commedagh, Annalong Horseshoe, Loughshannagh, Spelga Skyline and the Seven Sevens. Stewart’s club mate and friend Harry Teggarty took 2nd place in the MV60 category, having finished behind him (Stewart) at Glenariff, Commedagh, Loughshannagh, Spelga Skyline and the Seven Sevens. No Ladies Vet 60 competitors finished the Championship Series.
Jim Patterson (Newcastle AC) narrowly piped NIMRA Chairman Ricky Cowan (Mourne Runners) to the top spot in the Men’s Vet 65 category. Jim (Patterson) led the MV65 runners home at Glenariff, Commedagh, Annalong Horseshoe, Spelga Skyline and Slieve Bearnagh.
These five wins ensured that Jim took maximum (5) points and meant that Ricky’s wins at Loughshannagh, Flagstaff to Carlingford, Seven Sevens and The Fallows, as well as numerous 2nd place finishes, whilst impressive, weren’t enough to take the top podium position overall but secured a second place MV65 finish. Ricky was another of the very few competitors to complete every race in the new Championship Series. No other MV65 runners completed the Series, but Ian Taylor (BARF) was competitive in the early stages of the Championship, with good runs at Glenariff and Annalong. No Ladies Vet 60 competitors finished the Championship Series.
In addition to the NIMRA Championship there was a new award for Inspirational Runner of the year. This was about recognising somebody who through their exploits was likely to inspire others. This year the chairman had great pleasure in giving this award to Denise Mathers (Newry AC). Denise has done a lot of running in recent years and this cumulated in her successful completion of the Bob Graham round in 2014. She was the first Irish lady to join this prestigious club which involves running 42 peaks in the Lake District in under 24 hours. No mean feat.
That is it for this year hope to see you all out on the hills in 2015.