Ballydrain Harriers were delighted to host and compete in another successful Comber Cup on Saturday 19 October but while some 600 athletes raced round the hilly and muddy course at Billy Neil, four Harriers took on the mammoth challenge of the 6th annual Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain Trail Race (MTR).
The Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR is part of the Skyrunning UK series and was hosted by NiRunning with assistance from the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association. The 22 mile (35km) course, which incorporates a total ascent of 3,370m (11,057ft), is challenging on a good day never mind the tough conditions the competitors faced due to the wet, windy weather. Starting and finishing in Newcastle the route incorporated the summits of Bernagh, Meelmore, Loughshannagh, Meelbeg, Commedagh and Donard. 209 runners completed the course, with Brennan Townshend (Scott Running), outgoing Mourne Sklyine MTR Champion, breaking his own course record finishing in 3:41:46. Sophie Bubb (Lymington TC) won the ladies race in 5:07:06.
Mark Duggan was first to finish for the Harriers in 77th place overall (3rd in his M50 age category) in a time of 5:46:05. This was 2 minutes 40 seconds faster than his time at the race last year. Alison Stocks, who is new to mountain running and returning from a difficult year due to injury, was second home. Alison finished 9th in the field of the 43 female runners in 5:57:28. She finished just three minutes behind Bernadette O’Kane (Dub Runners) who was crowned female Irish National Skyrunner Champion after the race. A very impressive outing for Alison. Mark Elliott finished the course in 6:35:44 and Paddy Ritchie in 6:56:42.
The 10th annual GR8 Dundrum Run also took place on Saturday. The GR8 Dundrum Run is an 8 mile multi-terrain race with a mix of road, beach and boardwalk organised by Murlough Athletics Club in association with the National Trust. The race was won for the third year in a row by Jonathan Roebuck (unattached), who broke his own course record by 5 seconds, finishing in 44:07. Newcastle Athletic’s Sinead Murtagh took the top spot in the ladies race in 53:47. Four Ballydrain Harriers were running with Stuart McIver first home in 14th place overall in a time of 52:02. This time also saw Stuart place 2nd in his M40 age category. There was another age category 2nd place for Amanda Jackson who completed the 8 miles in 1:00:55. Amanda and Stuart also improved their course times from last year, Stuart by almost two minutes and Amanda by well over a minute. Deborah Sherlock crossed the line in 1:14:52 and Violet Davison in 1:33:51. Violet placed first in her F70 age category.