Donard Commedagh – British Fell Championship Race 1

9 April 2016 – Donard-Commedagh – 8.7 miles / 3543 ft

P&B had a small but committed group heading over to Newcastle, Northern Ireland for the first of this year’s British Champs races.

Some good running all round but most prominently by Rob Hope who took the win.

Here’s what Rob had to say:

Another cracking weekend in Northern Ireland. Several years ago I’d had a run of several years winning the Irish round of the British Champs which was spoilt with the mist debacle of a couple of years ago. I seriously didn’t want another repeat. The mountains of Mourne are as good as it gets in the UK for dramatic rugged scenery and steep hills that cascade into the sea. I didn’t want to do all that travelling to stare into the grey.

For some reason the terrain really suits me. Tough climbs and technical descents, some fast running, a real mixed bag. I was confident enough after a fairly sluggish start to the season and enjoyed the whole race. A High 5 IsoGel did the trick to get me round for fuel at the top of Slieve Donard and I was pleased with how the Salomon Speed fell shoes handled the course. The descents were as difficult as I have experienced with surface water, ice, bog and hidden rocks. Great to get down without a fall and another win in the Mournes. A great race, a top battle and nip and tuck all the way.

Highlights in order of importance:
– A great welcome from the race organisers and helpers as usual. Top do all round- Thanks to them.
– The Shimna Cafe 11 piece (12 with extra egg) fry up on Sunday.
– Guinness.
– The fellrunners family gathering in O’Hares. The dance floor mosh pit.
– Niall’s massive win in the amusement arcade. A sweet fest to keep us going on Saturday night.
– Post race snacks and milkshake on the sea front in the sun.
– oh, and the running wasn’t bad.”

Rob Hope Pudsey and Bramley

Rob running strong through the final wooded section (Photo c/o NIMRA)

As for the rest of us, Niall & myself managed to pass a very sweary Claire during the last descent to finish within a minute of one another. Claire, narrowly missing out on a top 10 finish, had an incredibly strong start but a frustrating descent having lost a couple of places in the technical, ankle-worrying woods (it’s not often I shout “Lookout! I’ve got two ladies chasing me!”).

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[Above: Niall crossing the line knowing Guinness awaits… and Graham at CP6. Photos c/o Richard Cowan and Norman Berry)

Claire Green nearly out of the woods… (Photo c/o NIMRA)

Rachel had a consistent run throughout to finish 18th lady, and Jo Schreiber had a stormer coming in 1st FV50… completely unawares of the achievement, since we missed prize-giving as Jo was getting a round in at the pub next door.

Rachel Pilling

Rach climbing strong (Photo c/o NIMRA)

Jo Schreiber

Great result for Jo, 1st FV50 (Photo c/o NIRunning0

The evening provided the usual delights of drinking, socialising and hijinks including some impressive displays of speed when ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’ came on the pub speakers and the cream of the crop of British fellrunning sprinted onto the dance floor, tops-off…

A great weekend’s running and partying. Many thanks to amazing organisation from NIMRA. Can’t wait for next year.

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Rob Hope 1st 1:17:21. Niall Bourke 90th 1:41:06. Graham Pilling 94th 1:41:54. Claire Green 99th (12th lady) 1:42:22. Rachel Pilling 131st (18th lady) 1:50:14. Jo Schreiber 181st (1st FV50) 2:01:55.  (Full Results here)

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