Winter strikes back on Gullion
Photos by Jayne Bell – more to follow
Mother nature giveth and she taketh; After taps aff weather all week it was coats, hats and gloves yet still cold today – sooo cold. This did not deter sixty, hardy, mountain running enthusiasts who gathered in the wind and rain on the North side of Gullion turned out in shorts and ready for battle.
The starters whistle announced the end of the winter break and the racing mud started flying. Mark Stephens led the charge up the lane with Jonny Scott, Colly Murtagh and Paul McAnespie just behind. In the ladies race Esther Dickson dominated the climb and seemed to get stronger as the altitude increased.
After the first grassier section the ground turned to churned up muck and rock for the remainder of the ascent. This coupled with heavy fog, strong swirling winds and horizontal rain and hail made for difficult running conditions. Undeterred orienteering loving Mark was first to the rocky summit cairn followed twenty seconds later by Jonny, Colly, and Paul. At this stage none of the ladies could compete with the strength of Esther and she had a good gap on her competitors.
Mark Stephens has an eye for a descent and proceeded to run unchallenged to the finish. In the podium chase Colly and Jonny got a lead on Paul. Colly then got away from Jonny but was temporarily slowed down when his shoe fell apart. This gave Jonny all the opportunity he needed to catch and power past him for second place. This left Newcastle man Colly in third position cursing his shoes; If only he had all winter to buy some new ones 🙂
With the help of a few handy shortcuts Esther Dickson blazed down the mountain to come 6th overall and first lady. Ciara Largey survived the conditions to come 2nd with Sarah Quinn completing the podium.
Thanks to Armagh AC for organising the race. Big shout to the marshals standing in the grim conditions, especially on the North and South Tors. As always there was a good spread in the hall afterwards and most folks eventually defrosted after a few cups of warming tea.
The party moves to Glenariff next Saturday @12. It is online entry only. Entry closes on Wednesday so get entered if you wish to participate. Enter here.
Bring it kids.