Giant’s Trail Race – Club Championship Round 9
Friday evening brought the second running of the Giant’s Ring Trail Race, courtesy of our friends at the Dub Runners. Last year the start of this great 6 mile trail race was affected by a torrential downpour. This year we are hoping that the elements will be a little more kind.
The race itself is a superb one. It starts close to where the old Dub pavilion used to be. Following a charge across the rugby pitches the runner joins part of the Queen’s parkrun route in reverse before a steep descent to Shaw’s Bridge via the meadows below Malone House. From Shaw’s Bridge it is then on towards Minnowburn before a very steep climb up to the Terrace Hill Garden, the highest point of the route. It is then on towards the Giant’s Ring itself (a magnificent Neolithic tomb in the middle of a circular enclosure over 600 feet wide) via the Sandpit Field and Ballynahatty.
From the Giant’s Ring the route is then towards the once industrial Edenderry and across the Gilchrist Bridge to the main towpath before taking the trails back to Shaw’s Bridge and the meadows to the finish. There is a sting in the tail, however. Those meadows which helped the runner at the start of the race will now conspire to sap his or her strength as the end approaches. If you are going to be reduced to a walk at any point, it may well be here!
As was the case last year the race will constitute a round of the Orangegrove Club Championship, the ninth round. So, there will inevitably be many orange vests on the start line. However, even if this race was not a round of our championship we would still be there in our droves. Not only is it a great six mile race, but Nessa Agnew and Roisin Byrne have done a spectacular job in selling it to us. Most of us would rather run up a mountain than face the wrath of Nessa!
So, how did it go? Well, conditions were all but perfect. It was dry, not too warm, not too sunny and there was a gentle breeze. The green area adjacent to the start at the Dub was awash with orange, most of it ours. My count suggests forty-nine OAC members, fifty if we count Colin Simpson (43.22) as one of ours on the day. There was music, encouragement and a sense of pleasurable anticipation. Even though this was for us a Club Championship round all of us were glad to be there and ready for the challenge. I would say this particular 6 mile trail route must be one of the best anywhere in the world. Where else would you get such a variety of scenery, terrain and history in one six mile stretch? Off we went at precisely 7.30pm and by 8.45pm most of us were back and contemplating the next bit (the important bit), the tea, the craic and the sandwiches, of which there were plenty. The following are the times achieved by Orangegrove runners:
|Thomas Leitch||39.58||1st M45|
|Jacqueline Maxwell||53.23||1st F55|
Great running from all concerned. Eventually the above times will be age graded and entered on the spreadsheet. Well done to Jacqui Maxwell (F55) and Thomas Leitch (M45) on their age category wins.
All of us at OAC are very grateful to our friends at Dub Runners for hosting us so well and for laying on such a challenging yet thoroughly enjoyable trail race.
The Giant’s Ring Trail Race was won by Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) in the remarkable time of 33.53, and Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers) was first lady in 42.15. What a way to start the weekend! So, until next year!
Thanks to Eric Fairfield, Trish Magill and Dub Runners for the photos.