It felt like the Twelve Days of Christmas in the build up to this year’s race, with the weather man singing from a different song sheet each day. It wasn’t until we got to the two Turtle Doves that the decision was taken to go with the Mountain course, as the indications were that we could get the run fitted in just before the worst of the weather arrived.
This proved to be the case, and 71 hardy souls turned up for some Bleak Mid Winter action. Jonny Steede was back to defend the title he won last year. Seamus Lynch, second last year was also back, keen to continue pressurising Jonny as he has done all season. Long distance expert Eoin Lennon who ran so well last year was there as was London based Chris Smith, a two times winner of this race. Catherine O Connor who has been singing so sweetly all season looked like the potential First Nowell, er lady. Continue reading
I first walked round all the Mourne peaks over 500m almost 40 years ago (1500ft back then!), on a three day midsummer camping trip. Since then the mountains have been ordered, told to stand up straight and be counted and the Rules have been set down. My interest was kindled during the development of the Rankin Round and I was keen to have a go at the 500’s this summer.
A few sporadic recce’s and then an aborted attempt in June due to poor weather were followed by torn ligaments from an old man’s stumble in the Alps in July and that seemed to rule out any prospect this year. Continue reading
The Denis Rankin Round is a circuit of all the peaks in the Mourne Mountains of County Down, Northern Ireland, over 400m in height, covering over 86km (54miles) in distance and over 6000m (20,000ft) in ascent. The challenge is to complete this within a 24hour period.
The Round is named after Denis Rankin, a pioneer and leading light in fell running and mountain marathons in Northern Ireland since the 1970’s, who tragically died on 16th 2013 competing in a fell race on Slieve Moughanmore. Continue reading
This past week a few BARFs decided to take to the mountains and recce the classic Spelga Skyline race route, which will be reintroduced to the NIMRA championship on Saturday 5th July. It was perfect weather for such a long jaunt, half of which is over the lesser trodden western Mournes. With recent experience at Donard a good reminder, we knew to pack all the essentials – map, compass & full body cover!
The route sets off from the gate at the base of Slievenamuck, climbs to the summit, and then descends to the first of two road crossings at the well known Ott track. From this point it’s time to set your own course for the next checkpoint on the summit of Slieve Meelbeg. This ground is fairly rough with equal parts peat hag and long (wet) grass, with the climb up Meelbeg also including a scramble over boulders. Once high enough we picked up the ridge trail to the summit cairn.
It’s that time of year again and the races will soon be coming thick and fast and before long you will feel like you have been clobbered by something like a big bag of spuds! Well — it so happens that the first Northern Ireland Championship race at Glengariff next week rewards all participants with a bag of spuds from their sponsor, Glens of Antrim Potatoes so at least you can get some free carbs to help build up for the other races.
Boxing Day is capable of producing an array of winter conditions, most of them tending towards the unpleasant end of the scale, but this year we enjoyed a lovely winters day with sunshine, blue skies and light winds. Given the stormy weather which had preceded Christmas and the horrendous day which followed Boxing day we were indeed lucky to have raced in the lull between two storms.
As usual at the start line there was a flurry of activity as we checked that everybody was carrying the correct gear and tried to deal with those who always turn up unprepared for the potential dangers and consequences of an accident in the hills in winter. We managed to get everybody kitted out one way or the other and a record number of 95 runners were sent on their way up the Trassey track.
I’m pleased to announce the completion of the long overdue revamped BARFNI.co.uk website. This site will be used in conjunction with our Facebook Page and Twitter account to give BARF an updated online presence. So go right ahead Like, Tweet and Share our wonderful content!
See you in the mountains,