Mountain runners from NI excel at prestigious Maurice Mullins and Slievenamon events!

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Irish Mountain Running Association (IMRA) Maurice Mullins 2018 Events:

On Saturday 7th April 2018, Northern Ireland’s ultra-distance and trail running enthusiasts descended on the picturesque Wicklow Mountains, just south of Ireland’s capital City, Dublin.

The recently re-named Maurice Mullins 51k Ultra (with 1,940m of ascent) and 25k Trail (with 940m of ascent) events, formerly known as the Wicklow Way races, attracted both experienced endurance competitors as well as those wanting the dip their toes into the game.

Part of the reason for the mass participation may have been the fact that the 25k race doubled up as a selection race for the Ireland team destined for the ‘Long Distance’ World Mountain Running Championships, to be held this June in Poland.

It was in that very race (25k) that former 51k winners Eoin Lennon (Carnethy HRC) and Ian Bailey (Newcastle AC) battled it out for positions on the Ireland team, and of course top spot on the podium.

Little separated the pair until there was approximately 15k to go, when Eoin made his move and eventually ran on to a clear victory in 1:45:00 (1st place).  Ian followed, taking 2nd place in 1:47:07.  Both men deservedly took their places on the international team, having met the necessary criteria.

Former North Belfast Harriers athlete, Alan Ritchie was next familiar face home in 16th place (2:10:25), having just start training for upcoming longer distance events later this year.  An improving Andrew Tees (Orangegrove AC) crossed the line in 2:12:19 for 19th place before the speedy Martsje Hall (North Belfast Harriers) arrived at the Glencullen finish, to take the victory in the female 25k Trail event.  Martsje broke the tape in 2:12:50 (1st place).

Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC) claimed 24th place in 2:17:25, before Elizabeth Wheeler (Glens Runners) secured 2nd place on the female podium, completing the tough course in 2:27:30.  Mourne Runners were well represented, with Craig McCauley (2:42:19), Denise Mathers (2:47:00 – 1st FV50), Beverley Herron (2:49:10), Stewart Cunningham (2:49:50 – 1st M60), Stuart McNeilly (2:57:45) and Samantha Edgar (2:57:45) all impressing.

In the Ultra Marathon it was a past runner up, Tom Hogan who took the honours this time around, taking the victory in 4:13:55 (1st place) and subsequently breaking a string of Northern Ireland winners of the race.

The leading Northern Ireland participant in the 51k was Ultra debutant Colm Murtagh (Newcastle AC), Colm covered the out and back course in 4:28:20 for 5th place.

In the ladies event, another debutant impressed. Newcastle AC lady Mari Troeng took victory, Mari covered the course in 5:20:50 (1st place).  Perhaps its time for the Northern Ireland ladies to dominate this event, with Jackie Toal having succeeded in 2017.  Irish international ultra-runner Eilis Connery took 2nd position, almost 10 minutes behind Mari.

Consistent performers, Billy Reed (East Antrim Harriers) – 4:51:10 (1st M50), Simon Reeve (North Belfast Harriers) – 4:54:25, Jonathan Gibson (Unattached) – 5:18:00, Martin Mullin (BARF) – 5:18:20 and Dale Mathers (Mourne Runners) – 5:19:00 crossed the line before the experienced Kevin Murdock (Team Purple) – 5:29:43, Aaron Shimmons (BARF) – 5:30:12 and Ivan Sadlier (Unattached) – 5:41:25 got there.  BARF pair Geoff Smyth (6:03:20) and Stuart Maxwell (6:07:15) finished just ahead of Newcastle AC’s Ultra newcomer Paulette Thomson (6:12:05) and last years ladies champion, BARF athlete Jackie Toal (6:17:30).

Another Newcastle AC participant Eugene McCann (6:18:10) crossed the atmospheric finish line just ahead of Lagan Valley AC lady Hazel McLaughlin (6:20:10) and BARF’s Martin Morrison (6:20:35).  Dromore AC’s Johnny McKinley completed the course in 6:56:15, before former Mourne Skyline MTR finisher Craig Bell (unattached) and Armagh man Martin McShane (Unattached) rounded off the Northern Ireland participation in the events in 7:04:40 and 7:41:25 respectively.

Following the Event, Race Director Dermot Murphy revealed that he would be retiring from his role at the Maurice Mullins events.  Dermot was influential in the growth of this race and has turned it into what is now a must do event for many Northern Ireland trail runners looking to start their season on a high.

We at Northern Ireland Running would like to thank Dermot for his work and wish him well for his future, in and out of running.  We understand that a man known to many local athletes, Richard Nunan may be Dermot’s successor – Good Luck Richard!

Full results for the events are available HERE.

Slievenamon Mountain Race, County Tipperary:

Sunday 8th April 2018 saw more Northern Ireland athlete travel across the border in the quest for international selection, this time the destination was Tipperary.   The course covered 10k in distance, with 645m of ascent.

Newcastle AC pair Seamus Lynch and Zak Hanna, Rio Catney (North Down AC) and a group of NIMRA Junior Athletes led by Phil Hodge made the 3.5 hour trip.  The successful athletes would represent Ireland at the European Mountain Running Championships (Up & Down) taking place in Skopje, Macedonia this July.

Seamus Lynch produced an exceptional performance to take the win in 38:49 (1st place) – his Newcastle AC club mate Zak Hanna narrowly missed a podium place, crossing the line in 39:29 for 4th place.

In the associated Junior race, Conall McClean and Tony McCambridge, both of St Malachy’s AC, secured 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.  Tom Magee claimed 5th place.  In the ladies event, North Down AC’s Rio Catney took 4th place in what was her first official mountain race.

Full results for the event are available HERE.