The good people at the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association have supplied us with a preview of their season-opener, a race on Slieve Gullion in County Armagh.
The season opener takes place on Slieve Gullion next Saturday (March 9th). The race is 6.9 Km long with 460 metres of climbing. It is an up and down affair and reasonably easy to navigate in all weather conditions.
The race starts from the forest park car park. As with most hill races you are climbing straight out of the blocks. Initially the route takes you around some forest paths before you blast up towards the open mountain on a tight firebreak. Once you have cleared the trees you follow a peaty ditch along a fence before cutting over a peaty field to the cairn. Swing around the cairn and run as fast as you can back the way you came. The race profile and GPS trace can be seen on strava.
The Runners and Riders
Last year this race was won by Newcastle AC runner, and super vet, Deon McNeilly. Who will be challenging him this year? At the Christmas Cracker his club mate Luke McMullan was looking fast ; maybe Mourne Runner, and last years Hill and Dales champion, Andrew Annett might make an appearance or will the boys from the North like Neil Carty or Jonny Steede spoil the party?
The race starts at 12.00pm in the Slieve Gullion Forest Car Park. There will be refreshments, banter and the prize giving in the Mullaghbane Community Center afterwards. This is only a two minute drive from the park so make sure you come along.
You can find a more detailed description of the race route here.
See www.nimra.org.uk for full details of the NIMRA races.