NIMRA ‘The Mountain Runner’ Newssheet Jan 2024

Welcome to our first edition of the monthly NIMRA newsletter ‘The Mountain Runner’, and we are pleased to show off the Jan 2024 edition updating you with any news or highlights from the previous month and what is coming up for the month ahead. Members can use this as a focus point to stay updated with all the goings on, and we appreciate if anyone would like to make any contributions throughout the year, please get in touch and we’ll do our best to include in the latest bulletin.


*NIMRA Run For Rescue (Sat 9th December 2023).

Despite the weather warning for high winds earlier in the morning, they had died off mostly in time for NIMRA’s annual charity race, with all proceeds going to the MMRT (Mourne Mountain Rescue Team). This year the race was held in Tollymore Forest Park using the Outdoor Centre as Race HQ and for the presentation of prizes and awards for the 2023 season afterwards. The race itself was approx 6 mile, utilizing the fire roads initially before moving onto steeper trails to the height of the Drinns before descending towards Parnells Bridge and back to base. The race itself was won by Newcastle ACs Tom Crudgington in 40:58, followed in by Adam Cunningham & Joshua McAtee of Mourne Runners for podium spots. Tom’s U20 partners Patrick McDaid & Ethan McMullan arrived in 4th & 5th position and no doubt will be among the podium spots this coming season. The ladies race was won by Carmen Runners Alexa James in 53:10, with Jog Lisburns Karen Wilton and Catriona Edington (unattached) completing the ladies podium.

Jump for Rescue!

Afterwards the prize-giving took place in the main hall of the outdoor centre, where championship and category winners, as well as championship completers were presented with their awards for the 2023 season. Full results for the season are on our website in the 2023 results section. Special mention to Phil Hodge, our juniors secretary who was awarded the Inspirational Runner Award for 2023. Phil’s coaching of the juniors this year as not gone un-noticed, and if the juniors aren’t winning the local races handy enough, they are also making an impact at national and European level. This is mostly down to Phils work in the background and his effort must be recognized.

Phil Hodge receiving the 2023 NIMRA Inspirational Runner Trophy from Aine McNeill & Anne Sandford

Clearly those racing, organizing or spectating have all got deep pockets as a superb total of £2220 was raised over the day for the MMRT and cheque was presented to Harry Teggarty at the prize-giving. Fair play to all who contributed!

*Turkey Trot (Tue 26th Dec 2023)

Unfortunately the Christmas period just past was largely jam-packed with inclement weather, high winds and heavy rain the order of most of the holidays. BARF must have requested a truce with Barra Best or Cecilia Daly for St Stephens/Boxing Day for the annual running of their festive race the Turkey Trot, as a rare lapse of stinking weather gave way to magnificent sunshine and calm breeze for the duration. This was appreciated by the fantastic number of 128 runners (some potentially worse for wear) who togged out to lap Slieve Meelmore. The mens podium was Paul Pruzina stomping to the line in a new record of 36:49, followed in by Eoin Lennon (Carnethy) and Hill & Dale 2023 champ Ashley Crutchley (Newcastle AC). The top 3 ladies was the returning Sarah Hanna (Mourne Runners) in 51:15, with Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) and Amanda Perry (Ballydrain Harriers) completing the podium.

Paul Pruzina leaping towards course record at the Turkey Trot

Special word to Jim Brown who has been race director of the Turkey Trot for quite some time (30+ years!) and has now passed the baton over to Andrew Tees and Rónán Davison-Kernan for the future. Needless to say Jim was in attendance on the day to ensure a smooth handover! Full report on BARFs website here

*Other Festive races

Sat 30th January was probably one of the biggest races of the year with over 1350 runners in pairs for Newcastle AC’s Castlewellan Christmas Cracker. The 8 mile or so course (which changes every year) usually starts middle of the town before entering some very wet and mucky farmers fields in the vicinity of the town (in extreme XC style) before entering the forest park to finish the last 3 or 4 mile over the hilly trails. With a decent recovery gap between the two, plenty of the Turkey Trotters were able to complete in both races and certainly plenty of high calibre hill runners were at the top end of the rankings in the Cracker. The race was won by Ballydrain Harriers Jared Martin and his buddy Thomas Renshaw who stormed around it in 50:26, with Aaron McGrady (East Down AC) & Timmy Johnston (Annadale Striders) in 2nd place. Tom Crudgington was on the podium again in the space of a few days coming 3rd with his partner Robbie Hagen (both Newcastle AC). Well done to Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers) & Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) coming in 2nd place in ladies race with 1:07:22, Amanda Perry & Denise Logue were third with 1:09:33. A big well done to our president & BARFer Ian Taylor who paired up with North Downs John Adgey to win the M140+ category! Report and photo links on Newcastle AC’s page here

Plenty of craic at Castlewellan Christmas Cracker

New Years Day is the turn of Ballymena Runners to host the popular Race Over The Glens which is held in Glenariff Forest with a lumpy forest course of approx 6 miles. Over 400 turned out to welcome in 2024 in arguably best way possible, and the race itself contained very high standard of trail running. Taking off to the sound of bagpipes, the runners sped off from the car park to the forest itself. The ladies race was won by Niamh Marrs of Glens Runners in 51:23, with Karen Wilton & Marie Kerr arriving shortly after in second and third in a close race. The mens race was won in a very impressive 39:29 by Philip Goss of North Belfast Harriers, with Ballymenas Jack McKenna and Glens Runners Jonny Steede a minute or two behind. Plenty of photos on the Ballymena Runners Facebook page here

Philip Goss & Niamh Marrs: King & Queen of The Glen 2024

*Art O’Neill Challenge/Spine Race 2024

A big well done to Andrew Tees of BARF who came second in the Art O’Neill challenge out of a field of near 200 runners tackling the long trek of 60km starting at midnight Sat 13th Jan between roads and open mountain from Dublin Castle into Co Wicklow and finishing at Glenmalure. Hard luck to Niall Gibney who no doubt will return for another crack again! Full results can be found here

A big well done also to Marty McMullan who tackled arguably one of the toughest races in the world The Montane Winter Spine Race. A gruelling 268 mile race do be completed in 168 hours (1 week) from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders through the Pennine Way. The race is always held mid-January where freezing temperatures and darkness are but a few hurdles to overcome. One of 8 Irish runners taking on the whole hog, Marty had a brave run retiring at Malham Tarn and was on his feet 33 hours. At present Spine is 2-1 up against him but this most likely won’t deter him having another blast at it! Full results can be found here

Martin McMullan taking in the sights of the Spine Race!


*NIMRA Membership

Membership for NIMRA for the 2024 season is now open. We are hoping to top last years record membership figure and are already on the way, with a continued growing interest in the sport. In order to qualify for championship standings you must sign up for membership before the first race of the series which is Slieve Gullion, so deadline is Friday 1st March. If you are a member of a club please include it when purchasing your membership, otherwise please only select unattached. Please note if you are completing IMRA races you must purchase IMRA membership separately to NIMRA. All details are on the membership page here

*NIMRA Championship 2024

2024s championship has been expanded to 14/15 races rather than 12 so there is a wider spread of choice over the season. You must complete at least 7 of the races, with at least one compulsory at each distance of short, medium and long category, with the best results of a further 4 races counted to final championship points. The main fixture list will be updated over the season and please keep an eye on our FB/X (Twitter) pages for entries opening or deadlines closing, as race directors are now pretty strict enforcing ‘no entries on the day.’ We also remind our runners to check essential kit now and purchase any missing items before the season starts so they are not left with embarrassment of refused to start or DQ at the finish!

Pleased to announce a couple of new races this year with The Granite Peaks Ultra 50K and 25K races on Saturday 20th April and Carmen Runners will take us to see the Giant of Mullaghcarn in the Gortin Glens in Co. Tyrone on Saturday 29th June. Further details to follow on both of these. Upcoming fixtures are below but our full fixture list for 2024 is here

*Ulster Championship 2024 (w/IMRA)

Together NIMRA & IMRA are staging a provincial Ulster Championship for this season. This will be a 5 race series (with 3 races to qualify) spread across the province. All the races (except Carnaween) are also in the NIMRA championship so the overlapping allows you to compete in both. However you must be a paid up member of both NIMRA and IMRA separately for this to happen, again before the first race so deadline is Friday 8th March 2024. The Ulster Championship races are below:

Sat 9th March: Glenariff Spud Run (Antrim)

Sun 16th June: Flagstaff To Carlingford (Armagh/Louth)

Sat 29th June: Mullaghcarn Giant Race (Tyrone)

Sat 6th July: Carnaween (Donegal)

Sat 24th August: The Two Towers (Down)


The NIMRA 2024 Annual General Meeting will be taking place on Monday 19th February at 7:30 pm via the now normal Zoom meeting. The committee would be encouraged if you could attend to hear the round up of the 2023 season, contribute to any discussion, and the election of the new committee. If there are any items you wish discussed please inform the committee secretary Anne ( by Monday 12th February 2024.

The following positions will be open for re-election:

President – represent NIMRA at appropriate events, keep records of prizes & trophies

Chairman – co-ordinate committee activities, ensure committee functions effectively

Secretary – web news, results & updating, email & printed info to members, flyers, calendar production. Respond to general enquiries. Reports to AGM, Athletics NI.

Treasurer – keep financial records, report to committee & AGM, payment of bills

Minutes Secretary – minutes, arrange meetings, agenda circulate

Results & Records – Championship results compiled, race records

Social Secretary – dinner, prize givings

Teams – follow up on team selection,, arrange travel and accommodation, equipment.

Membership Secretary – membership renewals, records, chase payments, info to treasurer & secretary

Junior Development Officer – organising training events, races, team selection and funding.

Equipment Officer – Store NIMRA’s race/safety equipment and allocate to race organisers on request.

plus individual members up to a maximum of 15.

The Agenda, various other documents and the zoom invite will be circulated closer to the AGM date. So place this date (19th Feb 2024) in your calendar and look forward to seeing you.

*Come & Try Event (Sunday 24th March)

NIMRA is hosting an open day demonstration for anyone looking to take into mountain running and the various skills required. This will take place at Meelmore Lodge on Sunday 24th March with further details and entry info to follow. Again please keep an eye on our social media pages for further updates.

*Junior News Updates

Junior meet up training morning Sat 13th January ascent

NIMRA & IMRA had a junior meet up/training session on Saturday 13th January with the squad heading for the saddle between Donard & Commedagh, along the Brandy Pad to Hares’ Gap and over Slievenaglogh and Corragh to Commedaghs summit before the very fun descent over Shanslieve back towards Newcastle. Well done to the juniors and their coaches, here’s hoping for a very big year from them! The junior trial will be held in March after the completion of the Irish Schools XC races, details to follow.

Junior meet up training morning Sat 13th January descent

*International Selection Criteria 2024

NIMRA are sending squads to represent NI in three races this upcoming season. The three races are as follows:

Sunday 21st April: Inter-Counties (Keswick, England)

Saturday 11th May: Senior Home International (Perth, Scotland)

Saturday 20th July: 47th International Snowdon Race (Llanberis, Wales)

For full details and selection info please visit here

*IMRA 2024

The IMRA season began with the Coillte Winter/Spring Trail League based in Munster, with the first race on New Years Day at Bweeng Trail, followed by Corrin (both in Co. Cork) a fortnight later and Glengarra Woods in Tipperary on Sunday 21st January. On the same day was the first race of the Leinster Spring League with Brockagh Burst in Co. Wicklow, followed by Howth Winter on Saturday 27th January. Well done to the sizable BARF contingent that competed at Howth, with Jonathan McCloy & Jack Proctor coming in 3rd and 5th place respectively, and also to Elizabeth Wheeler finishing 2nd lady home. There is a huge selection of different provincial league and championships across the country to cater for all, the upcoming fixtures are below but to plan ahead for the rest of the year the full fixture list is here

*Upcoming fixtures

Feb 2024 (IMRA)

Sun Feb 411:00 AMBansha WoodsMWLTipperaryIMRA Race260m8.50km
Sun Feb 412:00 PMMullaghmeenWSLMeathIMRA Race423m10.80km
Sat Feb 108:00 AMSlí Chorcaí UltraIUCCorkIMRA Race2140m71.50km
Sat Feb 1011:00 AMTrooperstown WinterWSLWicklowIMRA Race380m9.70km
Sat Feb 1012:00 PMSlí Chorcaí HalfMHMCorkIMRA Race900m23.50km
Sat Feb 1711:00 AMForth Mountain WexfordSELWexfordIMRA Race200m10.00km
Sun Feb 1811:00 AMRahan WoodsMWLCorkIMRA Race250m9.20km
Sun Feb 1811:00 AMSliabh BuiWSLWexfordIMRA Race250m8.00km
Sat Feb 2411:00 AMClonmel Trail HMMHMTipperaryIMRA Race826m21.10km

March 2024 (NIMRA) (Entries for the below 3 are due to open imminently, please keep an eye on our social media pages for details!)

Sat Mar 211:00 AMSlieve GullionCArmaghNIMRA Race340m7km [S]
Sat Mar 911:00 AMGlenariff Spud RunC, UCAntrimNIMRA Race370m9.7km [S]
Sun Mar 24 AMCome & Try EventDownOpen Day????

*On this month (Archives)

From Northern Exposure Jan 2003

Christmas Races

Barf Turkey Trot

Neil Carty had a comfortable victory in todays annual BARF Turkey Trot, clocking 45:47 for the 5.2 mile course, well clear of Simon Taylor and Gareth Arnott. Violet Cordner (LVO) had a comfortable win clocking 67:42 ahead of Catherine Marshel. Newcastle’s Brian McBurney was the first vet finishing in 53:54 and 9th place overall

Comber Christmas Cracker
Mountain Runners where well represented in comber for the multi-terrain 9 mile course. Simon Taylor & Turlough Donnelly where first ahead of Gareth Arnott and Mathew Wilson, with the Newcastle team of Damien Brannigan and Dermot McGonigle third.

Race Over The Glens

David Simpson won the New Years day race from Simon Taylor second, other mountain runners included Alex Brennan (4th), Mark Alexander (14th), Andy Gregg (16th), Dessie McHenry ( 22nd, first vet55). Juniors Chris Bell and Jonathan McCloy were 28th and 55th respectively. First lady was Anne Paul (18th), followed by Sharon McBurney (32nd) with Violet Cordner 4th lady. At least 20 fell runners took part in the field of 168 runners.

(Above) Male Newcastle athletes in the August 2005 Lurig Challenge

1st Alan McKibben (27:53), 2nd Deon McNeilly (29:36), 4th Stephen Cunningham (31:06)

Gary Bailey was 3rd in 30:02

(2023s winner was Timothy Johnston in 28:45)

*Mountain Of The Month

Name: Slievenaslat

Height: 272m

Location: Castlewellan Forest Park, Co. Down

Info: Nestled between The Mourne Mountains & Slieve Croob, it boasts a very extensive viewpoint and easily accessible on the park trails

Race you will visit?: Hill & Dale Castlewellan, Christmas Cracker (sometimes!)

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