(L-R) Kerry Hall, Mourne Mountain Marathon; Colm Moran, Eliet Class Winner; Mark Stephens, Elite Class Winner; Jim Brown, Mourne Mountain Marathon.
This weekend, 21st & 22nd September 2019, the Mourne Mountain Marathon celebrated 40 years. This year’s event was a story of two halves; on Saturday competitors enjoyed the tail end of an Indian summer and on Sunday rain reminded them how tough a mountain marathon can really be.
In an era with so many outdoor events to choose from, the Mourne Mountain Marathon still goes from strength to strength. A near record breaking 190 teams of two entered this year, coming from all over the UK, Ireland and even Brazil to compete in the majestic Mountains of Mourne.
The Mourne Mountain Marathon is Ireland’s only two day navigation and endurance event, which combines the skills of orienteering, mountaineering, fell running, trail running and hiking. There are 5 courses to choose from with the hardest – The Elite Class – covering 55 km and 2,700 meters of ascent.
This year’s competitors had to reach several points in the eastern Mournes and make their way from the event centre at Shimna Integrated College in Newcastle, to the overnight campsite in Silent Valley. Teams have to carry all the equipment they need for two days in the mountains, including the overnight camp. On Sunday they made their way back from Silent Valley to the event Centre taking in the hills around Ben Crom Reservoir and Lough Shannagh.
The winners were Mark Stephens (Crossgar) and Colm Moran (Dublin) who have both been running very well this year, with Mark winning the Seven Sevens mountain race and Colm picking up the Carrauntoohil title. They came in 38 minutes ahead of the nearest team, Matthew Vokes & Ben Windsor from Cambridge.
In the B class a mixed team Shane Lynch and Karalee McBride were clear winners. Mixed teams did well in the B class coming in 1st and 3rd place. Father and son team, Billy and Peter Reed won the C Class.
On the 40th Mourne Mountain Marathon, Race Director, Jim Brown said:
After 40 years the event is still as popular as ever with regulars and we’re delighted to see lots of new faces enjoying the event this year. In particular we are very pleased to see a marked increase in younger teams entering and doing well in the event.
The results are as follows:
Elite Class: Mark Stephens / Colm Moran 08:30:53
B Class: Shane Lynch / Karalee McBride 08:40:58
C Class: Billy Reed / Peter Reed 06:30:47
D Class: Claire Dowens / John Dowens 07:21:05
1 Day Score Class: Paul Pruzina / Philip Vokes 05:12:44 (370 points)
The event is sponsored by Jacksons Sports Belfast, McAuley Financial Services and Brewin Dolphin.
Winners of the inaugural Mourne Mountain Marathon, 1979 (L-R) Denis Rankin and Jim Patterson
The Mourne Mountain Marathon started out as a one day event in the late seventies, organised by the NI Orienteering Association. It then moved to a two day event format organised by the Mourne Mountain Rescue before being taken over by Elite Class winner (1979-1981), the late Denis Rankin. He organised it from 1984 until his death in 2013. Subsequently the Denis Rankin Round mountain challenge was set up in his honour.
Since then the Mourne Mountain Marathon has been organised by fell running enthusiast, Jim Brown. Over the years the event has been sponsored by Anderson Industrial Doors, Surf Mountain, Lowe Alpine and currently Jacksons Sports of Belfast. The event has been held every September since 1979, except in the year of the Foot & Mouth outbreak in 2001.