The Fallows 2016 – Race Report
On Saturday September 26th the last race of this year’s Podium4Sport NIMRA championship took place in Rostrevor. The race was being hosted for the second year running by Newry City Runners and the Mathers family. A small, but ‘select’, group of keen competitors turned up to battle it out over the rolling hills in Kilbroney. The weather was practically balmy with bright sun and enough heat to make shorts and vest seem adequate.
The 10 mile route starts at the Kilbroney forestry hut and heads out past the turn for Fiddlers Green before turning up a fearsome climb called the Badgers Claw. This takes you to the upper slopes of Slievemeen via a series of switchbacks which start steep before mellowing into pine needle carpeted cambers which peter out into a steep stoney section. Once on Slievemeen runners head on open mountain for the top of Slieve Martin and off the other side. Initially this is a heather covered descent along side a fence which flattens into a mossy bog which would not feel out of place in the Game Of Thrones. This deposits participants on the side of Crenville where they are faced with waist high tufts of grass which makes for slow progress from there over to the ‘lollipop’ or the forest paths as others might know it. From here it is a steady run of about 4 miles on forestry paths to the bottom of the zigzags. Once up the zigzags the route goes over Slievemeen again this time heading over the open mountain to the Cloughmore Stone. Anyone who is been on that path will know it is a mix of nice mellow open mountain with a scary steep section heading to the stone itself. The race finishes by taking the very fast paths down through Fiddlers Green.
In the men’s race Gary Bailey led it out. He was closely followed by Deon McNeilly, David McNeilly, and Barry McConville. Clive Bailey and Colum Campbell were in the second group on the road. As the race progressed up the Badgers Claw Gary opened a commanding lead and had a 1.5 minute gap on the rest as they crested Slieve Martin. By the time the they had reached Crenville things started to go wrong for Gary as he had started to develop a stitch which just would not go away. After reaching the lollipop he was forced to walk as it was too painful to keep running. The chasers caught him here and it was the turn of David McNeilly to lead the race towards the zigzags. Unfortunately for David he took a wrong turn at the zigzags and went towards the car park, rather than up the hill. By the time the race had reached Slievemeen for the second time David managed to get back to the front of the race, but once again he took a wrong turn approaching the Cloughmore Stone and could only watch as the boys left him behind. This left Barry McConville to take his third win of the year, followed by Deon and Clive Bailey.
In the ladies race Diane Wilson started out strongly and led, this year’s NIMRA champion, Shileen O’Kane and Sam McNeilly for all of the first section. At the lollipop Shileen caught up with her sparring partner and they swapped the pain back and forward around to the zigzags. Going up the zigzags there was no sign of either lady cracking, but as they approached Slievemeen Diane managed to open a gap which she held until the end. Shileen ran strongly to finish in second with Sam McNeilly making up the podium.
Thanks to Newry City and the Mathers family for running a great race which is always a favourite in the Bell house. The next race takes place at Slieve Gallion next week (Oct 3rd). This is a short 8km race and starts at 11am.