Des Woods Masters Tollymore Forest

Up and Running Hill and Dale Race Series Race two: Tollymore (Report by Bogman). The second race in the “Up and Running” Hill and Dale race Series brought a record 219 runners (and 218 finishers) to the trails in Tollymore Forest Park, was it because of or despite of Race Director Mc Cann that we got this record turnout. With a stretch in the evenings and the sun in the sky there could be no better  location for  the run up to the Easter break. This week’s winner was Des Woods (Mourne Runners), following up on his win at this event last year, but this time some 40 seconds outside his course record. His performance on the night was still far too good for the rest of the field with the ”bridesmaid” from North Belfast, Neil Carty, collecting yet another Hill and Dale second place. Does anyone know how many second places this guy has collected over the years? While over the first 3 miles of the race the top 6 finishers ran very much as a group, with each of them taking the lead at some stage, it was Gary Bailey (Mourne Runners) who worked his way through to pick up the bronze. Over the next 30 minutes or so, the remainder of the field made its way up the Azalea Walk and through the cheering spectators to the finish at the car park. The runners were very well supported at various points on the course, as many of the crowd took the opportunity to have a dander round the course. The full details on places and times are best viewed in the results section. For your information, those results in “red” are category winners. Teaming Later at the prize giving, team Mourne Runners were gathering around their club coach, just like little Easter chicks. Every now and again they would chirp up “who won the team prize”. Now guys (or should I say chicks) you know that the team prize ended in 2009, but if you go on to the NIMRA  web site you will find that some “kind person” has taken it upon themselves to organise a Hill and Dale team competition. Is it legal, will they (NIMRA) sponsor an end of series prize, only time will tell. In the ladies section, a lot less trouble from them, it was winter training partners Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley) and Ann Sandford (Newcastle AC) who took the first 2 places for the second week. This form from Shileen could result in the first series win for anyone from the Lagan Valley club (could BARF not pay her wine bill). Lagan Valley may also have won the ladies team prize, –  had there been one. Also there is no point going to the NIMRA site for this one, as the kind person (male?) is not organising a ladies competition. Families at war One jogger from last year, who has now become a “racer” this year is David Steele (Newcastle AC). David entered his first race at this venue last year, finishing in 107th place. This year, some 2 stone lighter and highly motivated, he finished in 11th place and over 10 minutes quicker. Perhaps it was the pre race brotherly advice from his non running big brother Brian, who was also at the finish to cheer him home. As he counted the runners through the finish I’m sure Brian had a certain snugness knowing that he still holds a higher finishing place than our fellow. Another clan at the race was the Mc Mullans (Rory and Luke) but for these lads it was all out war. It kicked of earlier in the week with a war of words on Facebook (whatever that is) and also kicked off from the start of the race –  full speed for the first 2 miles, with both in the top 20 at this stage. Then both hit the pause button, as they slipped back down the field over the hills in the next 2 miles, actions always speak louder than words lads. New kids on the block Newly formed “jogging” club Castlewellan AC, were led home by Coach Frankie Toner. Pity the spirit of leading did not extend to all their members. The pre- race agreement, that the guide dog (Niall) would lead the man with the white stick (Peter) through the rougher paths resulted in the guide dog slipping his leash and holding on for his first victory over his master – bad dog. It is great to see the number of other local towns and villages with runners/teams in this year’s series – Dundrum, Leitrim, Drumaroad and Kilcoo. There was some heated post race discussion around whether Kilcoo had the winner of the race. Local historian and born and bred Kilcoo man John Kelly, now living/running in Newcastle (for tax purposes) believes Des is first claim Kilcoo. Des now lives at the west end of the park and John states that if a pig is squealing on Tullyree Hill and you can hear it in your house, then you are a true magpie. Rumour has it that John was rolling down the hill on Easter morning with a little piglet, shouting squeal little pig squeal. There are no confirmed reports that this was heard by anyone in the Woods household. A miracle The other big news on the night was that the Pope would be making a visit to Tollymore Park during his visit to Ireland. The reason, two local ladies and regular walkers in the park reported to the organisers that they had seen “moving statues”. The video camera that is used at the finish to record the runners was replayed and the Ladies were able to point out the “moving statues”. But it was the sharp eyed timekeeper, Frank, that pointed out to the Ladies that the “statues” (that they had seen many times before in the park) were Forest Service staff taking part in the race – so no duty free shop for Tollymore after all. Give us a break Could we remind runners that there is only so much space in the results section for runner’s names. It all started with “Horace de Courcey Wheeler” and now others have started to give two Christian names on their registration form. While this is fine if it’s a PJ or WJ, it does not work for others. As well as the lack of space, encouraging shouts of –  come on Samuel Christopher or come on Raymond Donald doesn’t really work.  These double names might be ok for the cricket teams first eleven but it is not for Hill and Dale. Could we also remind runners that a Hill and Dale report is not a paper version of the Hugo Duncan show – we don’t do request. This is aimed at those runners who are snitching on their mates. Just like Mark Daly’s mate asking that we mention that he runs in “a pair of Vibram five fingers” if you don’t know what these are it would be like running with a pair of marigolds on your feet. His “mate” also pointed out that he spent some time in Australia, where he had trouble making friends. Seems every time he gathered up some, his sheepdog would chase them off .  This is the type of snitching we would never record in a Hill and Dale report. The main people at the event While the runners make the event it would never happen without the help of those behind the scenes. The Race Director sent me a list of people to include (some 20 names) but I’m not going to, because he missed out at least another 10 – but it does go to show you how many helpers are required to run this race series. So if you helped on the night or didn’t hinder on the night, thank you all very much. The sad news is that this could be the last event that Race Director Joe Mc Cann will be available for as he is currently being headhunted by Shimna Wheelers Cycling Club. Joe “Dunlop” as they refer to him, is on their most wanted list. The Wheelers are under going some bad luck with punctures and are convinced that Joe with the spare tyre that he carries around is the answer to their prayers. This spare tyre has been tested over many miles and has never gone flat yet. Next week race (registration in Kilbroney Park) is half forest/half mountain, so all runners need to bring the proper gear with them for running in the mountains. Also as we move into the hills there will be cut off times, so anyone that has been taking over the hour in the first 2 races could fall foul of this rule. Additional photos of all the races in the series can be found on the Newcastle AC website –]]>