The first time I did the Mountain Marathon was in 2011 and I swore I’d never do it again. We did the C class and I was talked into it by a friend from the Mountaineering Club at Queen’s, wasn’t fit, carried far too much and wore boots. The weather was rubbish. Time heals all wounds it seems and by 2017 I was up for another go, this time in The B class with the same man, wearing trainers and carrying a more sensible load. The weather was even worse but clearly there’s something wrong with me as I haven’t missed one since and have even had a couple of goes at the elite class.
However, 2020 involved more hours of suffering in the Mournes than usual, so a slight break in 2021 was in order. I hadn’t tried the Score class before so this provided an excellent excuse ease off. Paul Nixon (of this parish) was also keen to have a go but not the 2 days, and I committed myself to helping collect controls on Sunday to make sure I couldn’t be guilted into the 2 day.
3 weeks to go and I got a message from fellow Barfer Jackie Toal, who had just completed the Cape Wrath Ultra. I had seen her in film footage of the race and had messaged congratulations on her run. She asked me to do the MMM with her…. It had been a while, I was not as fit as I used to be but I could not say no to her, she helped me twice in the nighttime section of my Rankin Round, I owed her big time, so I said yes, though looking at my Strava I could see I had not run the distance or ascent of the B course in the last 3 months so I said yes if we can do the “C” Course. I hadn’t been well and am only now starting to get back to fitness, I had to listen to my body and be kind to it. Thankfully as I had done the MMM before I had all the kit through the Balloons for my balloon bed were from 2013 and during the night camp they popped one by one, I pumped more and… well it wasn’t so bad I got a reasonable night’s sleep.
Seventy One runners turned up for this year’s
race and lined up on the playing fields of Shimna Integrated College for a
socially distanced mass start as is befitting of these strange times. High
cloud dulled the suns strength and a breeze give false hope of cooling winds on
the summits but in the event the air was warm and sultry at times, leading to
cramping issues for many as the day progressed.
WE’RE BACK!! Fellrunning returned to the Mournes on Saturday 03rd July for the first time this year. With a new venue, revised race route, a record number of entrants (116) and Covid restrictions to manage, the race organisers were kept busy in the weeks before the race. This race was the first long category race, 20km and 2000m of ascent, in the 2021 NIMRA championship.
The BARF/NIMRA summer race season returns with a vengeance on 3rd of July with the 20km Annalong Horseshoe. This iconic race will start from a new venue at the top of the Carrick Little track and will also take in Slieve Donard for the first time.
Annalong is quickly followed by the Spelga Skyline (also 20km) on 17th July and then we have the longest race of the series – the Seven Sevens – on 14th August.
See our races pages for full details and how to enter.
Unfortunately we will not be organizing the Turkey Trot this
year due to the ongoing uncertainties regarding Covid 19. At the time of
writing (early November) it looks like the situation will not be improving any
time soon so there is no point putting the effort into organizing a race in
We, the Turkey Trot organizers would like to express our condolences
to the family circle of Chris Smith who lost his life while running in the Scottish
Highlands last week. Chris won the Turkey Trot in 2008 and 2012 and would
appear every second year when he spent the Christmas period in Northern Ireland,
apart from 2010 when the race was cancelled due to snow. His last appearance
was in 2014 when he finished second after an epic battle with Shamus Lynch. He
was an exceptional runner especially on continental type courses where he
represented GB on a number of occasions. He ran for Thames Valley Harriers and there
is an interesting Athletics Weekly article from 2014 where he talked about his
training techniques for the mountains while living nowhere near them. These
techniques obviously worked for he had some great results including winning the
Snowdon International race. A nice guy and a very sad loss.