NIMRA ‘The Mountain Runner’ Newssheet Mar 2024

Welcome to our third edition of the monthly NIMRA newsletter ‘The Mountain Runner’, and we are pleased to show off the March 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.


*Slieve Gullion Race (Sat 2nd March 2024)

Full speed ahead for the first race of the year

Over one hundred runners completed a cool but dry enough Slieve Gullion race at the start of March, the season opener. Keith Johnston, of Armagh AC, was first home in 30:14. Rounding off the men’s top three were Ryan Stewart and Joshua Mcatee in 30:27 and 30:29, respectively. Mcatee’s Mourne Runners AC partner, Adam Cunningham finished only a second behind in fourth.

Joshua Muckian on his stomping ground

Tanya Cumming, of Newcastle AC, was the first female finisher in 38:30, Catriona Edington following five seconds later in 34th. Carmen Runner’s Alexa James completed the podium, pipping Diane Wilson with a top-fifty finish and sub-forty time of 39:27. As the Hill and Dales edge nearer and this is a good marker of where everyone is at, the strong running by all at Slieve Gullion shows that we should be in for some series over The Mournes.

Tank emptied

*Glenariff Spud Run (Sat 9th March 2024)

The Glenariffe Mountain Race aka the Spud Run was a great success on Sat 9th March. 131 hungry spudders came to the Glens for the second race of the NIMRA championship and the opener of the Ulster championship.

RD Steede instructing the potato gatherers what side of the Glen river they should be!

Set in the beautiful Glens of Antrim, the race starts from the Glenariff Community Centre, and makes it way along a muddy lane for nearly two miles, up a 370m climb and back along the same route. Unlike the Slieve Gullion race the week before, which is almost a straight up and down, Glenariff is more like a tough cross country with a mountain in the middle. Seasoned spud runners know that the real challenge is not necessarily the climb but switching tired legs from the muddy descent off the mountain to fast running mode for the two-mile lane home, giving the winter legs a real shock altogether.

Unlike previous years, when rain, sleet and snow battered the runners before they even started, the day turned out to be a little windy but otherwise uncharacteristically mild. Áine Gosling powered home to take first place in the ladies race in 52.57. Meanwhile a battle was taking place on the hills between Newcastle’s Tanya Cummings and returning to form Mourne Runner’s Sarah Hanna. Both women put up a good fight, but it was Tanya Cummings, fresh from her victory at the Slieve Gullion race the week before who managed to put in a powerful sprint round the football pitch at the end to take 2nd place in 55.18.

Ladies podium at the Spud Run

Tom Crudgington dominated the race from the start, developing a significant gap within the first half mile. Tom maintained a consistent lead throughout the race and flew home in 43 minutes and 14 seconds, with over a minute lead on second place finisher the colourful-kitted Ryan Stewart (unattached). Adam Cunningham, Mourne Runners, followed shortly after to take third place.

*NIMRA Come & Try Event (Sunday 24th March)

Practical application of skills learned at the Come & Try Event

Fantastic morning at Meelmore Lodge Accommodation and Amenity Site for the Come & Try session. Participants were given the low down on all things introducing to mountain running

The session firstly indoor consisted of talks on running techniques, essential kit & safety on the hills, progressing from novice to elite athlete, and orienteering & navigation skills

The group then headed out up the lane to Trassey and below Meelmore for some practical work both navigating and practicing technique, and with the weather on side it was enjoyed by all.

Many thanks to the team who made the day a great success

Jonny Steede Glens Runners

Zak Hanna Newcastle Athletic Club

Ric Gamble & Sharon Dickenson NI Orienteer Lagan Valley Orienteers

Neville Watson Mourne Mountain Rescue Team

And to Meelmore Lodge for hosting

*IMRA Races March 2024

Martsje Hell collecting her 2nd place prize at Wicklow Way Half

Another well done to Conor & Shirley Farnan who have done several of the Leinster Spring League and completed another on Sunday 3rd March at Ticknock in south Dublin in the snow. Likewise to Martsje Hell who was 2nd lady in the Wicklow Way Half on Saturday 9th March, beaten to the post for first by just under a minute. Also competing at Wicklow Way Half was Lorcan Healy from Omagh Harriers with a very impressive 11th place, and Gerry Kingston with a great effort as always!

Saturday 23rd March was the date of the gruelling Maurice Mullins 50K race in Wicklow. This was race 2 of the Irish Ultra Champs and is one of the most popular races in the season, with plenty of northerners attending. The weather was not in favour to the runners, with overnight snow on the ground, and a very chilly and strong breeze battering the competitors throughout, the videos from up on Djouce looked pretty horrible! There was a good representation from the northern end of the country with BARF, Mourne Runners, Glens Runners, Omagh Harriers, Newry AC all in attendance. A special well done to current NIMRA champ Adam Cunningham coming in 5th place, and Niamh Marrs was 7th lady in. Trust everyone got thawed out eventually!

In for the long haul down at Maurice Mullins 50K


*NIMRA Championship 2024/Membership

Two races done and dusted so far but with plenty to go throughout the season, you can still easily finish the championship, and not too late to sign up for membership here beforehand. We are expecting demand to increase for races towards the latter end of the season and with entry limits they are likely to sell out fast. Please keep an eye on our FB/X pages for the latest info. League standings are likely to be first produced in April around completion of the Granite Peaks races or Slieve Martin Hill & Dale.

Marshals are required for various points around the Granite Peaks 50/25k course, with ideally a club taking an individual checkpoint each (some are already allocated). A request will be put out on our social media pages in the coming days. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated and if you are willing please get in touch!

*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 and primarily away from the Mournes bar The Two Towers. The first race was Glenariff so current league standings are on the IMRA website. 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 IMRA separately to qualify. The remaining Ulster Championship races are below:

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)

*Hill & Dale Series 2024

The ever popular Hill & Dales Series hosted by Newcastle AC resumes on Thursday 11th April in Castlewellan Forest Park. The 10-race series will run every Thursday evening touring the Mournes and it’s pubs afterwards until the end of June. Please note Slieve Martin is a NIMRA championship short race this year, and the Slieve Donard race in May is not in the Hill & Dale series but is a standalone NIMRA Championship and IMRA All-Ireland championship race. Full info on the series is on Newcastle AC’s website here

*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)  – Congrats to the members recently selected for NIMRA for the Inter-Counties below, and best of luck for the race!

Mens Team

Tom Crudgington U23 – Newcastle & District AC

Ryan Stewart – Team Captain – Unattached

Jared Martin – Ballydrain Harriers

Ashley Crutchley – Newcastle & District AC

Joshua McAtee – Mourne Runners

Reserve: Keith Johnston – senior – Armagh AC

                 Ethan McMullan – U23 – Newcastle & District AC

Ladies Team

Martsje Hell – Team Captain – North Belfast Harriers

Tanya Cummings – Newcastle & District AC

Catriona Edington – Unattached

Alexa James – Carmen Runners

Laura McConville U23 – Carrick Aces AC

Reserve: Sinead Marie McAllister – Unattached

Team Manager – Ian Taylor

Saturday 11th May: Senior Home International (Perth, Scotland) Teams will be selected on current form normally based on at least one of the following: Slieve Gullion 2nd March, Glenariff on 9th March and any evidence of previous comparable races or training runs preferably uphill and up to 5 miles will also be considered as well as current form but reason must be given for not competing in selection criteria races. Teams will be selected on 2nd April and successful athletes contacted shortly after that. Must register interest in selection before 29th March by emailing or Whats App Anne Sandford (07779245808) at

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

For full details and selection info please visit here

Sally out training for Slieve Donard race

*Navigation for Hill Runners (Tollymore Orienteers) (April 2024)

Tollymore Orienteers are hosting 3 Friday evening courses in the respective forest parks after the first three Hill & Dale races in April. This would be a great opportunity to brush up on existing experience and for novices to consider doing if taking on some of the more difficult races later in the season, perhaps utilizing skills learned from the Come & Try Event in March as well. Details in the poster below.

*Develop your Runner Mindset

NIMRA multiple ladies champ Esther Dickson is hosting an online Zoom event to highlight the importance of mindset in running. This would be just as beneficial for mountain runners as well and is on Monday 13th May @ 8pm. If you would like to attend please email with the subject RUNNER MINDSET. Further info to follow.

*Junior News Updates

The trial to select teams to represent N.I. & Ulster at the U18 International on 22nd June in Aguilar de Campoo, Spain took place on Saturday 16th March in Tollymore Forest Park, with full report and results here. The U18 team selection was finalized over the same weekend and is below, many congrats to the youngsters picked for the team.

N.I. & Ulster U18 Team Selection
Female U18
MairiClementsBallymena & Antrim AC
AoifeMageeLagan Valley AC
KatieGrahamLagan Valley AC
AnnaRussellLetterkenny AC
Male U18
LukeO DohertyMid Ulster AC
EoinMcConnellNorth Belfast Harriers
NiallMcAufieldLagan Valley AC
TiarnanMcManusSt Michael & College AC

The Irish U20 Trials to select teams to compete at the European Mountain Running Championships in Annecy, France, 31 May – 02 Jun 2024 will be held in Ballyhoura, Limerick on the 12th April (Uphill ONLY) and the 14th April (Up & down). Uphill only races provide a great opportunity for athletes inexperienced in the discipline of Mountain Running, to gain international experience. Information regarding the Trial will be found on IMRA website. Details regarding the European competition can be found here –

*Upcoming fixtures

Apr 2024 (IMRA)

Sat Apr 611:00 AMTory HillSELKilkennyIMRA Race175m6.00km
Sun Apr 710:00 AMSligo Women’s Trail Series 1: Hazel WoodSWTSligoIMRA Race38m5.00km
Sun Apr 712:00 PMAnnagh HillWSLWexfordIMRA Race550m10.70km
Fri Apr 127:00 PMSeefin Uphill Race (Euro Uphill Trial Race)LimerickIMRA Race350m4.00km
Sat Apr 1312:00 PMDargle Four PeaksLCWicklowIMRA Race800m15.00km
Sun Apr 1411:15 AMSeefin Challenge (Euro Champs Trial Race)MWLLimerickIMRA Race700m15.00km
Wed Apr 177:30 PMKilliney Hill Relay Charity RaceDublinIMRA Relay129m2.50km
Sat Apr 208:00 AMWicklow Glacier Lakes (solo)WicklowIMRA Race1783m42.70km
Sat Apr 208:00 AMWicklow Glacier Lakes (Relay)WicklowIMRA Relay1783m42.70km
Sat Apr 208:00 AMKnockmealdown Mountain UltraWaterfordIMRA Race3000m60.00km
Sat Apr 209:00 AMNIMRA Granite Peaks Ultra & Granite Peaks 25DownIMRA Race2996m50.00km
Sun Apr 2110:00 AMSligo Women’s Trail Series 2: Slish WoodSWTSligoIMRA Race0m0.00km
Sun Apr 2112:00 PMMount LeinsterSELWexfordIMRA Race635m13.80km
Wed Apr 247:30 PMBelmont and Little Sugar LoafLLWicklowIMRA Race360m8.60km
Sat Apr 2711:00 AMMt Brandon Half (Kilkenny)LHMKilkennyIMRA Race840m21.20km
Sun Apr 2810:00 AMSligo Women’s Trail Series 3: Union WoodSWTSligoIMRA Race0m0.00km
Sun Apr 2811:00 AMGougane BarraWJLCorkIMRA Race475m9.70km

April 2024 (NIMRA)

Thur Apr 1107:30 PMHill & Dales CastlewellanDownHill & Dales 2024350m8km [S]
Thur Apr 1807:30 PMHill & Dales TollymoreDownHill & Dales 2024350m7.5km [S]
Sat Apr 209AMGranite Peaks Ultra 50K/25KDownNIMRA Race3000/1100m50/25km [L]
Thur Apr 2507:30 PMHill & Dales Slieve MartinDownHill & Dales 2024/NIMRA Race500m7km [S]

*On this month (Archives)

Brian Ervine & Gary Bailey at the 2004 Seven Sevens Race. Gary and Brian raced neck and neck for almost 4 hours, with Gary beating Brian by 2 seconds (Gary took a faster route through Donard Car Park!), a new record of 3:54:10

NIFRA NEWS – 15/8/01

Northern Ireland World Trophy Team.

The following have been selected to represent Northern Ireland at the World Mountain running trophy in Arta Terme, Italy on the 15th/16th of September.

Senior Men:

Neil Carty (N Belfast), Brian Ervine (Ballydrain), Alan McKibbin (Newcastle), Dave McKibbin (Newcastle), Deon McNeilly (Newcastle) & Steven Neill (Pudsey & Bramley).

Senior Woman:

Shileen O’Kane (BARF), Violet Cordner (LVO), Clare Galbraith (ACKC), Hazel McCausland (Omagh)

Junior Men:

Dominic McAlister (St Malachys), Simon Taylor (BARF)

Words That Inspire
“Running up and down a mountain is not just any old 10-K road race. It’s
an adventure, a taste of excitement; it’s a realization that the human
body–your body–is a tough old thing. And that you’re the boss of it;
you can make it do this strange thing–this defying of gravity!” –
Douglas Barry on Irish mountain racing

(Douglas Barry was the Irish Team manager in early 2000s)

Jonathan McCloy & partner planning a route at the Mourne Mountain Marathon (2007?)

Foot & Mouth Disease

Slieve Gullion Postponed  (just remember, this item is from 2001, not 2024!)

Due to the outbreak of Foot & Mouth disease the organisers Armagh AC have been forced to postpone the opening round of the NIFRA championship, to a date latter in the year.

Please be advised that the Glenarriff Fell Race (24th March) and future races may also be effected. Uptodate information will be posted on the NIFRA web site

NIFRA would like to request that runners do not train over farm land until the all clear has been given. Remember farmers’ livehoods are at stake, we depend on them for access for our sport so owe it to them to behave responsibly

*Mountain Of The Month

Name: Binnian East Top (The Brown Owl)

Height: 639m

Location: Annalong/Kilkeel, Co. Down

Info: A small top out the east side of Binnian, it is very prominent driving along the head road. Sitting high above the main quarry on the east side, it is a short run out from the stile below the last scramble to the main summit tors. Boasts a very pleasant view of the Irish sea and surrounding hills.

Race you will visit?: none directly but very close on Binnian Hill & Dale, or on the Mourne 500 round.

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