WPFG 2013 Trail and Mountain Race Report
After two years of planning the WPFG 2013 Trail and Mountain races took place on Saturday 3rd August. In the morning we had an 8K Trail Race based on the Granite Trail in Donard Wood. This was followed by an 11K Mountain race over Donard and Commedagh.
I am sure earlier in the week some of the competitors must have been trying to figure out why they had decided to spend their vacation time getting soaked by the traditional Irish summer weather, but by race day this had largely disappeared and they arrived in the start village to sunshine and glorious views of clear mountain tops. There was a still a reminder that what we consider a nice day does not do it for everyone when a competitor from Trinidad and Tobago announced that he wasn’t sure how he could be expected to run when he could not take off his tracksuit due to the cold.
After a lot of hard work by the WPFG and NIMRA teams during the week the start village was looking well with marquees for changing, registration, medical needs and, the all important, race communications. This all looked out onto the race start which was framed with the obligatory inflatable WPFG arch and a taped out race track around the football fields on which the village was based.
There was a vibrant colourful feel to the registration area as the competitors, who had come from all over the world, milled around in their team strips. At the same time a team from Radio Ulster Your Place And Mine were doing a special outside broadcast covering all of the WPFG events in the area that day.
In all of the days races it was hard to predict winners as most of the overseas competitors were unknown locally. It was with great apprehension that the trail race kicked off. To the roar of supporters and ringing of cow bells Rodriguez from the St Cruz de Tenerife Fire Dept led the competitors from the start line and around the start field heading for the race proper on the trails in Donard Wood. Don Travers, the local favourite, spent the first section observing his challengers for the gold medal before taking decisive action on the crux section on the climb up the Granite Steps. Don crested this leg breaking stretch first and never looked back. It is said that firemen climb better than the other services and this seemed to hold true.
The top three men in the trail race were all locals Travers, Moore and Conerney closely followed by Rodriguez. In the ladies race Achimescu from the Romania Border Police dominated to beat Deabreu from Valreas Municipal Police and Picard from Quebec Prov Police in second and third, respectively.
I noticed a German competitor, Tilo Roguszczak, racing into the finish of the Trail Race brandishing a picked heather flower. When questioned afterwards about his commitment to racing; given that he had time to stop and pick flowers; he confessed that he had finished the race and used the flower to propose to his girlfriend. It appears she was convinced and the NIMRA family would like to say congratulations to the happy couple.
The line up for the mountain race included local man Robbie Bryson. Robbie, an unassuming looking man, is now in his 50s and I am sure the younger, more glamourous looking, athletes from exotic climbs did not expect to see him disappearing into the distance unless it was in their wing mirrors. As the race started out this is exactly how things were playing out with Lahitte from France leading Coulson from USA, Batista from Portugal and Bryson through the first checkpoint on the quarry.
The climb from the quarry to Donard ridge is a steep, rough haul and it was unclear what some of the international runners would make of this kind of running. It transpires that they liked it and at Donard ridge Lahitte still led followed by Bryson, Coulson, Batista. As they approached the cairn Robbie’s quality started to show through and he moved past Lahitte to crest Donard in the lead followed by Coulson and Batista.
On the top of Commedagh there was no change in placings with only a couple of minutes separating the top four runners. The run from Commedagh across Shanslieve and down to the last checkpoint on Slievenamaddy at the top of Donard Wood is a long grassy thing of beauty. It seems this sort of running suited Coulson from the USA and by the bottom he had overhauled Lahitte to be the closest challenger to Bryson. He may have been the closest challenger, but Robbie’s lead was commanding and he appeared at the finish with a cushion of a couple of minutes followed by Coulson then Lahitte.
The ladies race was dominated by Bochatay from Switzerland who mixed it up with the men to cross Donard in 14th place overall. At the finish she had an unassailable lead on Betts from Western Australia Fire Brigade and Bofarull Castro from Spain.
The mountain race was a tough proposition and it was another 75 minutes after Bryson had crossed the finish line until all competitors finished to complete the days racing. Even though the weather took a turn for the worse; tipping it down, as some might say; the NIMRA family, games makers and supporters stayed to cheer on every competitor as they made that last long lap on the finishing circuit. In fact some took this to another level and each competitor was congratulated with a mixture of hand shakes and hugs from race organisers Ricky and Ann Cowan.
The day turned out to be a great success. NIMRA would like to thank everyone for their hard work including the WPFG support team, WPFG games makers, NIMRA, local running clubs and many others. We would also like to thank the athletes for coming out to race and hope that they have great memories to take home.