(Stevie Rice, Donna Daly, Sam McNeilly and Nigel McKinney 2019 Score)
By the Terminator
The Mourne 2 Day, or Mourne Mountain Marathon is the only 2 day mountain marathon in Ireland. The event comprises of 2 long days in the hills, where you are required to be totally self-sufficient and navigate to each checkpoint that you are required to locate from the list of 6 figure grid references each team is provided at the start. It is a true test of fitness, navigational ability and endurance. In the event’s 40th year 188 teams entered – showing the event is as popular as ever.
There are 4 different categories (of varying lengths and navigational difficulty) in the 2 day event, and a 6 hour score event which takes place on the Saturday.
This year 6 Newcastle athletes took part in the event – 3 of which were currently injured but didn’t want to miss out! On Saturday the weather conditions were excellent with clear skies, albeit windy on the mountain tops. The Sunday was not so good – competitors that had camped out at the Silent Valley woke to misty, damp conditions and the weather continued to be poor the rest of the day.
On the Saturday, 4 Newcastle athletes had entered the 6 hour Score event (so named as competitors are given a map with checkpoints marked, each of which is worth different points, from 10 – 40 and it is up to teams to decide which route to go and pick up the most points in 6 hours). Stevie Rice and Sam McNeilly had a great run last year winning the event overall. Nigel McKinney (who won the mixed team last year with Orla McIlroy) paired up with Donna Daly. This year the event was much more competitive with 23 teams entered. Paul Pruzina and Philip Vokes (who won the Elite last year) dropped down to the score due to injury finished in 1st place with a score of 370. Mourne Runners Ricky Hanna and Gary Bailey also scored 370 to finish 2nd. Emma Stuart and James Chapman finished 3rd with 330 points. In 4th place was Dale Mathers and Sarah Hanna (also Mourne Runners) with a score of 328 to win 1st mixed team. In 5th, was Newcastle’s Stevie Rice and Sam McNeilly (270 points) and Nigel McKinney and Donna Daly finishing 10th with a score of 200 points.
In the Elite class, Newcastle’s Mark Stephens and team mate Colm Moran had an excellent run finishing over 30 minutes ahead of Matthew Vokes and Ben Windsor to finish in 1st place on the Saturday. On the Sunday, again they were first team home (although it was a much closer affair with a minute difference on Vokes and Windsor). This meant they finished 1st overall in a cumulative time of 08:30:53. Vokes and Windsor finished 2nd in a time of 09:08:53. Simon Hodge and partner Robert Johnston, also completed the Elite in 10th place.
Newcastle’s David Hicks had originally been entered in the Elite class, however had unfortunately picked up an injury which meant he changed his entry to walk the C-class with team mate Conor McSwiggan. They had a good 2 days out finishing 15th on the Saturday and 28th on the Sunday to leave them 23rd overall in a time of 09:52:54 (out of 82 teams – only 70 teams completed the 2 days in the C, with a number of retirees). Not bad for “just walking”! The C class was won by father and son team Billy and Peter Reed in a time of 06:30:47. This was nearly an hour and a half ahead of 2nd team, and 1st female team Emer Perkins and Éadaoin McCavana in a time of 07:58:22.
All Newcastle athletes finished tired but with smiles on their faces after a great day (or two) in the hills. Many thanks to the organisers and volunteers who make the event such a success every year. We are already looking forward to next September!
Mark Stephen and Colm Moran