June Update

BARF hosted the annual Annalong Horseshoe on 21 May. Trevor Wilson has made sure this race has gone smoothly for a long time now, but unfortunately, he slipped up this year in that he didn’t arrange the traditional Horseshoe weather of low cloud and poor visibility, with the 63 runners having to settle for perfect visibility and light winds. The race returned to its new home of Carrick Little for the 2nd year in a row and the consensus has it that this works well but Newcastle AC’s Pete Grant was adamant that “there’s no call for Donard on that course” and that he would “have words with Trevor” but he may have been suffering flashbacks from the sweatbox of the Donard race the previous week. Without the Pinnacle of Mourne sure, The Horseshoe would be a medium race, and when else do you get to race up the South side of Donard?

The Annalong Horseshoe is one for the connoisseurs and before the start stories/memories/Vietnam-style flashbacks of the 2021 edition were swapped, featuring stuck sheep rescued by vets, and many (many) navigational misadventures in the mist. Peter Valkema was hoping to take an hour off his time by not going down Lamagan slabs and doing a tour of the Blue Lough and the runners were to keep their eyes peeled for stuck sheep after Martsje Hell’s heroic rescue of such a creature in 2021. In the women’s race, all eyes were on BARF’s Alice Flint, unbeaten in any race she had entered so far and toed the line in her first long mountain race.

The first checkpoint is quite far from the start at the top of Chimney Rock, and various route options exist – although all bar 3 runners elected to take the route south of Rocky. All runners successfully completed the challenging course taking in Chimney Rock, Donard, Commedagh, Cove, Lamagan and Binnian North Tor – with several runners enjoying themselves so much they continued on to Binnian summit. Adam Cunningham took an early lead on Chimney and held it throughout the race, finishing in 2 hours 19 minutes, 8 minutes faster than last year (and thus beating his own record) and 7 minutes ahead of Jonny Steede in 2nd. Gary Bailey rounded out the podium in 2 hours 37 minutes.

BARF’s Alice come home in 6th overall in 2 hours 42 mins, 34 minutes clear of 2nd place female Ciara Largey (and record holder on the old course) in 3 hours 16 mins. 2 mins behind Ciara was Amanda Perry.

Alice was first BARFer home, followed byJack Proctor in 2 hours 48 mins. Jack has been going from strength to strength recently and has a knack for finding an extra gear about halfway through a race – definitely one to watch. 

Many thanks to Trevor for organising another great race. The next BARF race is the Spelga Skyline on 2 July.

Outside of the Horseshoe, there have been some great BARF performances recently Hill and Dales BARF has had a strong showing at this year’s Hill and Dales. Mark, Ronan and McCloy all caught Covid in close proximity around the time of the Tollymore race (or in Ronan’s case, in the car on the way to Tollymore) but all managed to return to service in time for the Binnian race. Alice Flint stormed up Binnian in 9th overall setting another course record. Andrew Tees was 3rd overall at Slieve Martin and 4th at Rocky. Both he and McCloy raced together at Rocky without incident but alas the universe couldn’t tolerate too much of this, and with Mercury in retrograde, their joint presence at Luke’s H&D may have been a contributing factor in Andrew spraining his ankle in the descent off Slievenaglogh. Andrew has been selected for the NI & Ulster team at the Snowdon race in July and we wish him a speedy recovery ahead of that race. Andrew wasn’t the only casualty at Luke’s, with Dave Mulrooney also managing an ankle injury. Luke Tarry may also be partially to blame as he spent the week before not unreasonably claiming this race as his own but unfortunately this was not enough for a free entry.

Donard Race
Another strong BARF showing at this year’s Slieve Donard race, the classic sea-to-summit-sea event hosted by Newcastle every year since 1946. Warm weather slowed many but Alice stormed home under the hour in an incredible 3rd overall.2nd BARFer was Jack Proctor in 9th place while in what some might call the true race of the day – the Covid recovery race – Ronan Davison-Kernan narrowly edged fellow recovering patient Mark “Tom Spellack” Adamson for 13th.

Beyond the Mournes
Funnily enough, there are actually some races which are outside the Mournes. Andrew Tees continued his impressive run of local form by edging out East Antrim legend Billy Reid to win the Wicklow Glacier Lakes race and won the Black Beacons 33 km trail race in Wales. Also in Wales was BARF’s ultra specialist, Rebecca Horman, who was first lady and 2nd overall at the 52 km edition of the Black Beacons race.  

On the same day as the Annalong Horseshoe, Rebecca, Brian McCann and Peter Purcell took part in the Seven Sisters 30k race from over the beautiful (but relatively untrodden) Derryveagh mountains. Unlike in the Mournes, the Donegal weather obliged but a marked course kept things on track. Peter was 10th overall in 4 hours 21 mins with Rebecca 4th female in 5 hours 4 mins, not long ahead of Brian who came in 5 mins later.

Trevor Wilson also marked a milestone of 250 Parkruns in May, an impressive feat, particularly to the author who hates the idea of getting up voluntarily that early on a Saturday morning.

Aaron Shimmons continued exploring the Hudson Valley of New York by foot in the stacked US Team Qualifier, the 45Km Breakneck Trail Race. With over 2800m of ascent, the 6hr 32min finish proved a worthy training run in preparation for summer ultras.

Last but not least, (and back to the Mournes) Steven Morgan completed Cassie’s Challenge in April – a ridiculous day out in the hills with more than 85 km travelled and nearly 7000m of climbing. Steven completed the route in under 23 hours and is no doubt already planning his next daft challenge. Steven is by far the most prolific runner in the club and if you’re ever looking for him there’s a fair chance he’s on Donard or Commedagh.

No doubt I’ve missed a lot – the above is just a snapshot. Come join us on our Monday evening social runs for plenty of craic.

Arf Arf!