Slieve Donard Mountain Race 2018:
Respected local athletes Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) and Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) claimed top honours as over 200 competitors took on the 73rd annual Slieve Donard Mountain Race (Saturday 12th May 2018).
The event, hosted by Newcastle AC, saw athletes start in the heart of Newcastle Town Centre and make their way to the top of Northern Ireland’s highest peak, Slieve Donard (850m), before returning to the atmospheric finish area in Donard Park – the course measured approximately 5.8 miles in distance.
The classic mountain race was part of the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Championship and also part of the Irish Mountain Running Association (IMRA) Championship.
Seamus Lynch has picked up many trophies in his career but this is the first time he collected the prestigious Slieve Donard Classic shield. After a battle with fellow Northern Ireland international William McKee (Mourne Runners), which lasted for much of the race, it was the Newcastle AC man who returned to sea level first, cruising home in an excellent 55:14 for 1st place.
William followed just over a minute later, taking 2nd place in 56:17, before his club mate Timothy Johnston (Mourne Runners) completed the podium in 58:59 (3rd place). Interestingly, four men went under the 60 minute mark, with Colm Murtagh (Newcastle AC) clocking 59:51 for 4th place.
In the ladies race, Newcastle AC’s Sinead Murtagh set the early pace before Shileen O’Kane took charge as they approached the summit of Slieve Donard. Behind, Becky Quinn (IMRA) and Sarah Graham (Mourne Runners) were enjoying an excellent battle.
As the ladies descended, Shileen’s fearless downhill running saw her move clear of Becky and Sarah, who had passed early leader Sinead.
There was no stopping experienced international Shileen as she dropped towards Donard Forest and made her way downhill towards the finish line – the Lagan Valley AC star powered into the finish area, breaking the tape in 1:12:20 (1st place). This victory is Shileen’s fifth at the Slieve Donard Classic, making her the most successful lady in the event’s 73 year history.
In the latter stages, Becky put a gap between herself and in-form Sarah as they made their way through the forest, eventually claiming the runners up spot in 1:15:30 (2nd place). Sarah, who will make her international debut for Northern Ireland next weekend, completed the top three in 1:16:23 (3rd place).
Full Results: Slieve Donard Mountain Race 2018 Results