Hill and Dale Race 3: Slieve Martin

The Newcastle A.C. Hill and Dale series continued on Thursday evening in dry sunny conditions in the southern Mournes. On this occasion the persecution began in Kilbroney Forest Park near Rostrevor. The 4.5 mile circuit took us on a zig-zag route through the forest before releasing us on to the bare mountain to ascend to the summit of Slieve Martin… and then back again.

This involved a height rise of about 1740 feet. Not for the faint hearted and at various times during the venture you do tend to feel faint hearted. Last weekend at Tollymore I thought to myself ‘never again’, yet a week later I inexplicably found myself on the start line with Thomas Leitch, Michael O’Donoghue, Sharon Dickenson, Jill Holland, Lisa Fleming, Emma McWilliams and new girl Zoe Ni Dhuinn-Bhig. I didn’t like the sound of this race when I read the Newcastle A.C. blurb. I liked it even less when I looked at the route on an ordnance survey map. There seemed to be a lot of contours and they were very close together. Certainly more (up)hill than dale!

Running the race was an incredible experience; every summit gained simply brought another beckoning. All of us descended considerably quicker than we ascended. But, in all fairness, absolutely stunning views of Carlingford Lough, The Ring of Gullion and my home county, Co. Louth, beyond. In a sense it was a privilege to have both the energy and the inclination to attempt it. Hill and Dale is not really about time or position, but for the record the following times were recorded by Orangegrove participants:

Thomas Leitch 38.55 (20th out of 223), Brian Todd 48.16, Emma McWilliams 54.25, Zoe NT Dhuinn-Bhig 55.12, Michael O’Donoghue 58.40, Lisa Fleming 58.49, Sharon Dickenson 60.01, Jill Holland 62.12.

Particular congratulations to Emma on a fine run and to Galway girl Zoe for running well and quickly entering into the spirit of things. Seamus Lynch of the Newcastle club won the ‘race’ in 32.28 and Shalene McMurray, also of Newcastle A.C., was ‘first lady’ in 40.57. It is just a little matter of Slieve Binnion and 2000 feet of ascent next week!

But hey, it’s only two miles!