David Hicks and Diane Wilson win the ‘Battle of Bearnagh’…

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Slieve Bearnagh Mountain Race 2017:

On Saturday 19th August 2017, mountain runners from all over Northern Ireland took on the latest round of the NIMRA Championship, the Slieve Bearnagh Mountain Race, hosted by Mourne Runners.

The race covered 3.9 miles in distance and incorporated 2,680ft of ascent – it’s classed as a ‘short’ race for the Championship.  The classic mountain race took in Slieve Meelbeg, Slieve Bearnagh and Slieve Meelmore, in that order with athletes starting and finishing in Happy Valley (top of the Trassey Road).

NIMRA provided the following race report… with photos by RICHARD COWAN.

With all the long running from last week on the Seven Sevens it was always going to be interesting to see who would perform the week after.

Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC), having missed the Seven Sevens, was looking hungry to get going and would produce an astonishing pace from the start leaving him out on his own on the way to Slieve Bearnagh. David Hicks (Newcastle AC) and David McKee (Mourne Runners) would be the few that would try and give chase.

By the summit of Slieve Bearnagh there seemed to be only one winner as Zak held a huge lead with only the descent of Bearnagh, and to get up and over Meelmore to go. David Hicks has clearly been practising his descent skills and these would prove very useful as he tore down Bearnagh on the hunt for victory.

By the top of Slieve Meelmore, David Hicks had closed the gap to a mere 30 seconds and he produced another devastating run to pass Zak on the run for home to take the victory, with Zak battling in to take second and David McKee completing the podium.

In the ladies race, Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) was trying to get another victory after a super performance at the Seven Sevens. By the top of Slieve Meelbeg, Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers) was putting down the marker leading both Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) then Diane Wilson.  Diane’s descending skills have always looked after her at numerous races and today was no different as she would pass both ladies on the way to Slieve Bearnagh and not let go of the lead to take the win.

Behind Diane the battle for the last podium places was going to go down to the wire. Shileen O’Kane would make her move on the steep ascent of Slieve Meelmore and try to hold on to that lead to the finish. This strategy would work well as Martsje could never quite get close enough but would take a super third place.

With everyone safely over the finish line it was time to test the wonderful sandwiches/buns put on from the host club Mourne Runners.  The final NIMRA Championship race will be the Commedagh Chase on Saturday 30th September 2017.

Top 3 Men:  1st David Hicks (Newcastle AC) – 47:23, 2nd Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) – 47:58, 3rd David McKee (Mourne Runners) – 50:22

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) – 54:42, 2nd Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) – 58:04, 3rd Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers) – 58:20

Full Results:  Slieve Bearnagh Mountain Race 2017 Results

Important Note:  Information on the Junior races which took place alongside this event will be added to this summary as soon as it is available.