The BARF Turkey Trot has taken place (almost) every year since 1991. Taking place every 26 December, it involves a tear around the hills somewhere in and around the Trassey valley. The venue and route has changed a few times, but since 2021 it has stayed close to its roots and settled into a start and finish at Meelmore Lodge with a 7.5km-ish lap of Slieve Meelmore before retiring to Tollymore Mountain Centre for festive refreshments. In tradition BARF members donated prizes and unwanted Christmas presents, from wireless speakers to wine, hand-burned wooden bowls and even a few …surplus Hill & Dale series prizes. Other fine customs were upheld; mince pies and mulled wine, Paddy Mallon’s famous spot prize Quiz, and the strong showing of local and ex-local runners returned for Christmas, making this always a competitive fixture. The Turkey Trot also always proves an excellent entry point to mountain running for many (the author included, in 2014) given its relatively short and benign route (sometimes).
Last weekend BARF took to the Wicklow mountains for our 2nd annual end of summer trip for a spot of running, climbing, and craic. Torrential downpours and power cuts on the Friday night gave way to decent weather for the risk of the weekend and Paddy Mallon’s ode in the IMC hut guestbook sums it up!
Having finished in 189th position in my last Hill and Dale race over the Meels, I deemed myself ready and headed off to the Alps to undertake the Zermatt marathon. As the name suggests, a full 42km with a climb of 2400m, mostly uphill, with a finish at the height of 2,585m.
I did briefly consider down grading to the half marathon but when posed with this question, the organisers replied ‘Sorry, but this category is fully subscribed’, or in Belfast parlance, ‘Suck it up, big lad!’.
While BARF hosted the Spelga Skyline last weekend, 3 BARFers headed West to take part in the Mweelrea and Nephin IMRA races in Mayo, together comprising the Connacht Championship. Report by Jonathan McCloy.
It’s the first time I’ve been to Mweelrea and Nephin but it felt so familiar, like races did 20 years ago. A small field of mountain runners, courses which were still rugged, not worn down to bare rock or bog and a good sense of community. Everyone chatted away and it would have been easy to yarn at everyone, yer man with the bright yellow shoes getting the brunt of my low quality humour (he beat me, so I don’t feel bad about it).
It started on a beautiful night in Castlewellan in April and ended on a (slightly less) beautiful night in Donard Park in June. From forest trails to mountain terrain, brutal climbs to fast, technical descents, sunny skies to sudden downpours, the 2023 Newcastle AC Hill and Dale Series had a little bit of everything. And so it was that a healthy contingent of Barfers (a theme throughout) made their way to Castlewellan Forest Park for Race 1, an undulating trail race to ‘ease’ the runners into the series. Some things in life are guaranteed – the sky is blue, the grass is green and somewhere in the hills on a Thursday evening you will find Steven Morgan patiently waiting for runners, with a sunny disposition and a penchant for taking photographs. Red-faced poses completed, the runners made their way back down to the finish line. Andrew Tees made the podium in a fantastic 2nd place while there were strong finishes for Terence Murphy, Richard Stringer and Jack Proctor to name but a few. Shirley Farnan, Karens Houston and Coulter, Kathleen Monteverde, Fiona Simms and Lisa Fleming ensured that Barf were well represented in the female categories, whilst evergreen Jim Brown took great pleasure in pipping a fellow Barfer (yours truly) to the finish line!
David Gallagher, through a rigorous an exacting selection process of picking names out of a hat, won the BARF entry to the London Marathon in 2022…
After my defeat on the Ridgeway 40 where my uncle John, Big John as he’s referred to by some, beat me by well over two hours having left me at 14km, later stating that “We ran together up to 40km when David hit the wall. I made sure he was comfortable and left him with his hip flask, service revolver and one round of ammunition and went on🏃🏃🏃. I didn’t expect to see him again.” But surprisingly enough even to myself I did not need to spend any ammunition, I mustered up what I could to trudge along until I was finally able to complete the last 26km. In the wake of this colossal defeat I had to make peace with the fact that I was the loser and any ridicule or slegging must be duly accepted until such time that I could redeem myself, it is for this reason I had to do what I could to run with Big John again, except this time I’d have to be the one waiting for him at the finish line!
Rrriinngggg – my alarms going and I awaken from my fitful sleep and check the time – 4:00am. Brilliant, time to take the next permitted dose of paracetamol. I’ve picked up a tooth infection within two days of arrival in Grindelwald and the swelling on one side of my face and associated pain don’t make for an easy life. Eating and sleeping are proving to be hard fought tasks. I gratefully swallow another two tablets and eventually manage to drift off for a further few hours sleep.