Hill And Dale Race 8: Easy Win For Des Over The Meel’s

Hill and Dale Race 8: By Wingman MEELBEG Meelmore, the 8th race in the 2011 Hill and Dale Series over two of the Mournes  highest peaks  both over 700 metres, joined only by five other peaks that exceed that height to make up the seven seven’s. In complete contrast to the week before at Loughshannagh with strong winds and chill factor only just above freezing, the air was still, the sky clear blue and temperature above twenty degrees. It was the warmest day of the year and the 188 runners assembled risked heat stroke rather than exposure. Head time keeper Frank Morgan started the race after calling the optimistic group down from the elevated position several hundred feet above, where they had gathered hoping for a bit less of a climb. Once back to the traditional starting point, the race was off, it wasn’t long before Des Woods took a commanding lead on the long haul up Meelbeg, Deon McNeilly followed some distance back in second place over both summits. Des went on to win by nearly 2 minutes, followed by fast descending  Andrew Niblock in second  and promising Junior Andrew Annett in third, both passed McNeilly  in the final stages of the descent from Meelmore, who finished fourth and first V45. [caption id="attachment_24486" align="alignright" width="207" caption="Shileen O'Kane, now 2011 Hill and Dale Champion."][/caption] Jim Brown  16th overall and first V50 wearing his shorts , much the disappointment of the ladies who had been expecting repeat appearance of his pink underpants from last week – lucky he didn’t get frost nip considering last week’s wind chill. Readers of the Sunday Life may have spotted a feature on Jim’s main V50 opposition, Dominic McGreevy who was declared a cripple only 12months back and told never pull on a fell shoe again, the full secret of his miraculous return to fitness is revealed in an exclusive. In the ladies race, another excellent win by Shileen O’Kane 38th overall, now has the 2011 title secure. This was Des’s first win over this course having finished second in 2009 to Eddie Hanna (course record 29.05) and second to Stevie Cunningham in 2010, his time being 5 seconds slower than in 2009 over the same course direction, while Niblock was 10 seconds faster. Stevie and Eddie are missed at the front of the Field but there was another notable absence further down the pack. “Where is Marty McVeigh? “, was asked more than once, the truth is no one knows. He was last seen earlier in the week setting off with only the clothes on his back and his bicycle to take the bus and train as close as he could to Malin Head, the most Northerly point in Ireland, from the there the plan was to cycle to Mizen  Head, almost 400miles. As a recovery before the trip home he planned to run the annual Carrauntoohil Mountain race, Ireland’s highest peak at 10.41m. [caption id="attachment_24487" align="alignleft" width="185" caption="Hill runner Jim Brown in action in Round 8."][/caption] Then his return leg would begin from Ireland’s most easterly point, Dunquin, Dingle Bay to the most westerly point Portavogie on the Ards Peninsula. When asked about on route bicycle maintenance by cycling expert Paul Mawhirt, the reply was “What’s that? If I get a puncture I’m stuffed (or words to that effect)!” As for on route accommodation – no planning had gone into that either! Hopefully he will turn up before the end of the series to tell the tale of his exploits, if not he is rumoured to have left an envelope in his garage with a message to his friends in case he doesn’t return. When the envelope was mentioned on a recent Newcastle AC club training run, there was one response, “ No one will be opening that ! He has no friends!”. Following David Smyth’s disqualification last week at Loughshannagh for not having the required full body cover, (he does have full body cover, he wore it all at Millstone despite the warm conditions) he was spotted trying to impress the race committee by doing penance carrying water up the mountain to the finishers, while his efforts where much appreciated, it will not exempt him from future breach’s of the rules. [caption id="attachment_24488" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Head Timekeeper Frank Morgan gets ready for the Hill and Dale."][/caption] While on the topic of helping out, thanks goes to all the support team including summit marshals, entry team, times keepers etc. Too many to list but special mention for Lucy and Eve Kenneally,  who did an excellent job handing out numbers at the start and then collecting them again after the finish, from the weary and often forgetful athletes. Proceeding’s moved to the Maghera Inn who supplied excellent food and refreshment for the ravenous runners. Turn out at the pub was higher than usual as word had got out that Joe “Dunlop” McCann, of Shimna Wheelers fame was to regale the assembly with his usual wit and banter while conducting the presentation of award, he didn’t disappoint. The crowds hung on his every word and laughed out loud as the one liner’s kept coming. With only three races remaining in the series, next week moves to Tollymore Forest Park for the Monument Race. Entries will be taken in the main car park from 1830 and close at 1920, to allow the race to start at 19.30 sharp. While this race is mainly in the forest there is an exposed section over the White Plains, so full body cover may be required.]]>