Author Archives: Aaron

Winter 2021 Training Update

Thursday 7th October is the first week of the BARF winter training programme, running all the way up to the start of the Hill and Dale races in April.

These will be weekly interval sessions, designed to add some hills-focussed intensity to your running and get you ready for the mountains!

We will be easing into it in week 1 with short hill reps beside Lock Keepers just off the Lagan towpath, as well as a warmup and cooldown together.

Meet at 7pm at Shaw’s Bridge car park and don’t forget to bring a headtorch.

Here’s what’s coming up in October and November:The full programme is here

Ronan & Paul’s Mourne 2-day Score

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. 

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Mourne Mountain Marathon 2021

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.

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BARF Training Update

BARF training runs are back and open to all. If you are interested in running more than just tarmac and want to give mountain and trail running a go, come along on a Thursday night.

In September we are doing some social hilly runs around Belfast (all-around 10km) to get back into the swing of things. We meet at 7 pm.

Please bring a head torch!

9 September – Divis (main Divis car park)
16 September – Belvoir (Belvoir car park beside RSPB)
23 September – Shaw’s Bridge (Shaw’s Bridge car park)
30 September – Redburn (car park beside Holywood Care Home)

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Seven Sevens 2021: Adam and Esther lead the way

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.

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ANNALONG HORSESHOE FELL RACE 2021 REPORT

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.

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Summer Races Return


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.

Turkey Trot 2020 CANCELLED

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 such circumstances. 

A gaggle of Turkey Trotters 2008

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.

2008: 1st Chris Smith ( 835), 2nd Matt Williomson (822), 3rd Eddy Hanna (854),
Steve Cunningham (794) 5th Jonny Steede (814).

Jim Brown.