NiRunning launch Skyrunning UK event for NI – Mourne Skyline MTR:

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NiRunning launch Skyrunning UK event:

Today, Wednesday 28th May 2014, NiRunning (Northern Ireland Running) are proud to officially launch the Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race and the associated Granite Trail Race (GTR); the former, the Mourne Skyline MTR will be a Skyrunning UK event, meaning that it will join a select group of the prestigious UK mountain and trail running events on the Skyrunning UK Series, governed by the International Skyrunning Federation (ISF).

The Skyrunning ‘weekender’ will take place on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th October 2014 in Newcastle, County Down.  The Granite Trail Race (‘GTR’), a 2 mile UPHILL only event (incorporating 250m of ascent), will kick off proceedings on Friday 17th October 2014 at 7.30pm.  This enjoyable and challenging race will assist in building the atmosphere for the ‘main event’, the Mourne Skyline MTR, a tough 35k mountain-trail race incorporating in excess of 3,300m of ascent, which will take place the following morning, Saturday 18th October 2014 (8am).  Full details of both events can be found on the official event website at www.mourneskylinemtr.com

This announcement follows months of negotiations, during which, we have worked tirelessly to ensure that we have the support of all relevant bodies.  We are extremely excited to bring Skyrunning to Northern Ireland as we strongly believe that it will enhance the reputation of running in Northern Ireland; for this reason, we would like to express our genuine gratitude to those who have assisted us.  The official Skyrunning UK press release is below…

Skyrunning UK is pleased to announce the fourth race to join the Skyrunner® Series UK, the MOURNE SKYLINE MTR taking place on October 18th in Northern Ireland.

The Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race is arguably Northern Ireland’s toughest and most scenic long distance race; the event is based in the Mourne Mountains, starting and finishing in the seaside town of Newcastle, County Down.  Comprising mainly of forest paths, fire roads and single-track grass and granite trail, with approximately one mile on the road.  The course measures 35k and there is approximately 11,056ft of ascent and 11,024ft of descent.  The highest point will be 2,801ft and the lowest point is at sea level.

It has been no easy challenge putting together a race in this iconic part of Northern Ireland. ‘It’s been a long process in relation to getting the event off the ground, because of the stunning nature of the course, and the fact that some of it is on protected land, we have been in discussions with various agencies. It has been worth it though, as we have got the course we have worked tirelessly to get,’ said race director, Ryan Maxwell.

The course is fitting to that of a Skyrunning event; although not at altitude, the amount of ascending, stunning scenery and technical sections are exactly what you would expect from an event of this nature anywhere in the world.  ‘Along the way participants will come up against Northern Ireland’s highest mountain, Slieve Donard and some technical ascents, including Slieve Meelmore and descents such as Slieve Bearnagh.’

October may well throw up some challenging weather, we are all aware of that fact that there is as much chance of getting perfect weather conditions in October as there is in August, ‘we have gone into our race plan in-depth and brought a number of very experienced and well respected individuals on board to assist. The route will be very well marked and marshaled at key points.’

Some of the higher parts of the route follow the ‘Mourne Wall’ (a very obvious stone wall), so this will further assist participants in bad weather.  ‘We will have five feed/aid stations along the way; these will be manned by teams who have experience in the mountains. Sweepers (back runners) will also be on hand to guide athletes and assist if anything should go wrong.’

Skyrunning is booming. The growth of the Skyrunner® National Series and the Skyrunner® World Series has been instrumental in increasing the profile of the sport. Skyrunning UK has been at the forefront. ‘Several members of our race team have found the experience of Skyrunning very enjoyable and rewarding, and witnessed what a positive effect it can have on a town/village etc. We felt that from an NiRunning perspective, this was an innovative project and something that would enhance the profile of our local running scene as well as shining a positive light on our country as a whole.’

‘The Mourne Mountains will provide many of us an opportunity to experience beautiful trails, mountains and scenery for the first time. For example I have never been to this part of the world. It’s an exciting opportunity,’ said Ian Corless, Director of Skyrunning UK.

‘Ryan and his team at NiRunning have worked tirelessly to get this race off the ground. It hasn’t been easy and the work ethic has paid dividends. To be able to announce this race is a testament to a committed team and I for one can’t wait to experience Skyrunning in the Mourne Mountains.’

What are you waiting for? This may very well prove to be a ‘bucket list’ event! ‘We have limited the main event to 150 participants given the course and the footprint a mass participation event would have on this area of outstanding natural beauty, we were keen to work alongside other agencies to minimize this and uphold the environmental ethos of Skyrunning.’

Entries open for the Mourne Skyline MTR on Wednesday May 28th on a first come, first served basis. As a ‘Sky’ distance event it offers a great opportunity to test oneself in the mountains and of course, you may well wish to enter the Peaks SkyRace (August 3rd) with a long-term objective to accumulate valuable Skyrunning points.  Check out www.skyrunninguk.com