The Fallows 2014 – Race Report
In previous years the Mourne Runners have been responsible for running the Fallows race; but this year the baton was passed to long running mountain man, Dale Mathers and the Newry City Runners. In the days leading up to the race there was a little uncertainty surrounding the event as due to circumstances beyond the control of the race director the crux climb from Balleymond Wood to the top of Slieve Martin was to be out of bounds. This left Dale with some head scratching and a bit of route reccing to find another way from the forestry hut to the Fallows.
What was the new route like I hear you ask? As always we started running from the forestry hut as if we were heading to Balleymond Wood, but on the section towards the stile runners were directed left onto an unofficial mountain bike downhill trail. This turned out to be nice climbing zig zagging back and forward on pleasant hard packed mud trails which got steeper with some stones as you approached the plateau leading to Slievemeen. We then followed the grassy path on the fence line over to the summit of Slieve Martin.
The lesser spotted path from Slieve Martin over to the Fallows was a step into the unknown for most runners. It started with a heathery furrowed descent down the fence line before moving onto a winding ‘trail’ between the trees which switched between waist high grassy tussocks and peaty moss. This lead to the small hill of Crenville which had no established path so the going was quite slow for a while.
After a time and one, or two, minor mishaps runners were deposited on the trail at the top of the ‘lollipop’ which led back to the main track of the The Fallows. This was a fast road man’s section all the way around to the sting in the tail on the zig zags before running back down over Slievemeen to Fiddlers green and the finish.
As always there was a rampage up the first hill with Ian Bailey clearly leading it out. Ian was the first runner to the top of Slieve Martin closely followed by Alex Brennan and Deon McNeilly. Those chasing behind included Clive Bailey, Paul Burns and Karen Alexander.
It all went pete tong for Ian at this point as it appears he did not look at the map at the start as instead of heading for Crenville he ran to the mast and followed the old Fallows route. Unfortunately this meant that the 2014 Hill and Dale champion was disqualified.
This left Alex and Deon to duke it out to the finish with Deon beating the Ballymena man in the sprint. Mourne Runner Clive Bailey came in third followed by Paul Burns from East Down and first lady Karen Alexander. The ladies top three was completed by Catherine O’Connor and Shileen O’Kane.
As always there was banter and cake to be had at the finish with Newry City Runners putting on a great spread.
Thanks from everyone to the team at Newry City Runners for a well marshalled and organised race.
[Photos by Jayne Bell and Aaron Shimmons]