McKibben twins turn up the heat

 

The 4th race of the Hill & Dale Series is unique – it finishes at the summit of the mountain – people hate it – for a lot of people the thrill of mountain racing is not really about getting to the top first, it’s about the exhilaration of descending at speed. Yet 118 people were tempted to the South Mournes, the Head Road to be precise, on Thursday night to tackle Slieve Binnian.

 

It’s a beautiful mountain, but the race route is wicked. A couple of years ago, for erosion reasons, the start was moved from Carrick Little Car Park to further along the road, leaving 100 less feet to be climbed – 1,800 – but in almost less than half the distance – less than 2 miles. A gradual start up the quarry track to the quarry – for the leaders the quarry is reached inside 7 minutes. Then, keeping the wall on the left, the gully is climbed. Basically it gets steeper and steeper until the Mourne Wall crossing is reached, before the even steeper finish – less than 5 minutes of thigh burning climbing to the craggy summit.

 

No visibility problems this year, but a north wind was keeping temperatures down to below zero on the summit with the wind chill. Straight from the gun, McKibben was off, actually they were both off, Alan, the current series leader and his twin brother Dave, a stranger to the Hill & Dale for some time; it was great to see him back. Dave was series winner in both 1998 and 2000, second in 2001 & 2002 and third in 1999, but was absent in 2003 and appeared for the first time in 2004 tonight. Defending champion is North Belfast’s Neil Carty, winner in one of the first three races this year, but absent this week. Alan, for that matter, was third last year and has signalled his strong desire to win this year.

 

Alan led from start to finish coming home in 22 minutes 42 seconds, 19 seconds ahead of Dave who made it a family double. This gives McKibbin three wins out of four and has turned up the heat on Carty. Ballydrain’s David McNeilly, getting stronger by the week as he recovers from injury, came home third 35 seconds further behind.  Behind, having gained his first Northern

Ireland vest the weekend before Annalong’s Stephen Cunningham was climbing strongly and a great tussle had gone on all race between former Series title holder Newcastle’s Deon McNeilly, Mid-Ulster’s junior protégée, 16-year-old Shane Doherty, and Albertville’s Steve Begley. It finished in that order.

 

Newcastle’s Kerry Harty had won three out of three, but club mate Anne Sandford had come home first Northern Ireland lady at Knockdhu at the weekend. Hart set off, as usual, fast and led Sandford for the first 15 minutes of the race through the quarry and onto the steeper slopes. Sandford, a former Series winner and Northern Ireland champion excels at climbing, the steeper the better. She has been returning from injury and is starting to regain her old form.

 

As the ground steepened, she passed Harty who, this week, had no answer. Sandford pulled away to come home in 28 minutes 38 seconds, 96 seconds inside the record. Harty was 68 seconds behind by the finish, but also inside the old record, with another former Series winner, Roma McConville in third in 30 minutes 53 seconds.

 

First veteran 50 was Albertville’s Billy McKay, 24 minutes 43 seconds, in 10th place over all. First veteran 55 was Newcastle’s Jim Patterson in 25 minutes 58 seconds, 23rd overall with Castlewellan’s Charlie McAlinden first veteran 45 in 27 minutes 34 in 33rd. Larne’s Billy Magee continued his excellent form to come home 72nd overall and first vet 60 in 31 minutes 22 seconds.

 

One of the fantastic aspects of the Hill & Dale Series is that whilst it takes place exclusively in and around the Mournes, the runners travel from far and wide to escape on a Thursday night from the normal routine. The three-month period from April to June is the growth season with the days lengthening and the season full of hope. Cathal McCauley, who runs for Ballymena, is one such runner. Cathal lives in Carnlough and he cycles each Thursday evening to Ballymena (20 miles) to catch a lift to the race. An hour and a half (or more) in the car later the main objective is to get out and stretch the legs and get ready for the lung busting start at 7.30pm. This week the Ballymena men had the planning well rehearsed and arrived in time for Cathal to take some quality snaps before turning his attention to the race. Steep climbing is not his best ground, being more of a speed merchant, but he reached the top in 28 minutes and 10 seconds and 7th Vet40 in 38th place overall. Back at the start and cleaned up, it was back to Ballymena and the 20mile cycle home to Carnlough – nearly midnight – fantastic.


A big thank you to Willie Marks and family who kindly provided use of their field for car parking, having to clear it of sheep the day before. This kept the Head Road fairly clear and was much appreciated.

 

The Hill & Dale organisers are keen to hear from anyone who has completed 100 Hill & Dale races over the years. The man to contact is Marty McVeigh on martin.mcveigh@osni.gov.uk - with evidence of course!

 

Race five is this coming Thursday at the Deer’s Meadow to Moughanmore and back. The ground is drier than in previous years, promising a fast race, however, the hills are as high as they have been for millions of years and they don’t get any easier. Race is, as ever, 7.30pm sharp, arrive by 7pm and enjoy the challenge.

 

BOGBOY

 

Results For Binnian 'To the Top'

 

Race 4 (of 11) in the Hill & Dale 2004 Series

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name

Club

Cat

Time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

Alan McKibben

Newcastle AC

O

22:42

 

2

Dave McKibben

Newcastle AC

O

23:01

 

3

David McNeilly

Ballydrain

O

36

 

4

Stephen Cunningham

Newcastle AC

O

43

 

5

Deon McNeilly

Newcastle AC

V40

52

 

6

Shane Doherty

Mid Ulster

OJ

57

Team result (3 to count)

7

Steve Begley

Albertville

O

24:06

 

 

 

8

Andy Gregg

Larne

O

15

1

Newcastle AC

7

9

Edward Hanna

ACKC

O

38

2

ACKC

48

10

Billy McKay

Albertville

V50

43

3

Albertville

49

11

Mark McManus

Larne

O

51

4

Larne

63

12

Jim Brown

BARF

V40

25:11

5

BARF

86

13

Jonathan McCloy

Mid Ulster

OJ

13

6

Ballymena

88

14

Adam Mitten

Newcastle AC

OJ

17

7

Team Purple

112

15

Damien Brannigan

Newcastle AC

O

26

8

Mid Ulster

133

16

Eddie Hawkins

Newcastle AC

O

29

9

Willowfield

145

17

Andrew Niblock

ACKC

O

30

10

Ballydrain

168

18

Paul Rodgers

Newcastle AC

O

40

11

U4EA

220

19

Johnny Gregg

Team Purple

O

46

12

LVO

258

20

Joe McCann

Newcastle AC

O

48

 

21

Mark Alexander

Ballymena

O

52

 

22

Gary Bailey

ACKC

O

57

 

23

Jim Patterson

Newcastle AC

V55

58

 

24

Paul Mawhirt

Newcastle AC

O

26:00

 

25

Barry Wells

Newcastle AC

V40

28

 

26

Samuel Herron

ACKC

O

43

 

27

Roy Donaldson

ACKC

O

50

 

28

Mark Hanna

ACKC

O

55

 

29

Sammy Drummond

Ballymena

O

27:05

 

30

Mike Annett

U/A

O

15

 

31

Richard Cowan

Willowfield

O

20

 

32

Dave Allen

Albertville

V40

29

 

33

Charlie McAlinden

Newcastle AC

V45

34

 

34

Des McHenry

Willowfield

V55

41

 

35

Vince McAlinden

BARF

O

52

 

36

Francis McAlinden

Newcastle AC

V40

59

 

37

Eddie O'Hagan

Team Purple

V40

28:06

 

38

Cathal McAuley

Ballymena

V40

10

 

39

Paddy Mallon

BARF

O

13

 

40

Jim Erskine

U/A

O

22

 

41

Anne Sandford

Newcastle AC

LV

38

 

42

James McKee

ACKC

O

42

 

43

Peter McGuckin

ACKC

V50

52

 

44

Mervyn McCollam

Larne

O

58

 

45

Marty McVeigh

Newcastle AC

V50

29:09

 

46

William Marks

ACKC

O

12

 

47

Richard Campbell

ACKC

O

15

 

48

Vaughan Purnell

Lunchtime Legends

O

21

 

49

Clive Coffey

U4EA

O

26

 

50

Dave Ewart

BARF

O

29

 

51

Keith Dalzell

BARF

V40

31

 

52

Nigel Hart

BARF

O

38

 

53

Cecil McCullough

ACKC

V40

40

 

54

Kerry Harty

Newcastle AC

L

48

 

55

Jess Anderson

U/A

O

53

 

56

Brendan O'Hagan

Team Purple

V45

54

 

57

Brian Linton

BARF

O

57

 

58

Francis Nugent

Newcastle AC

O

30:02

 

59

Fred Hamond

BARF

V50

17

 

60

Brian Wilson

U/A

O

24

 

61

Patrick Bradley

U/A

O

38

 

62

Ivan Millar

LVO

O

41

 

63

Norman Roberts

Larne

O

46

 

64

James Keown

ACKC

O

48

 

65

Mike Barton

ACKC

V50

50

 

66

Philip McGavock

BARF

O

52

 

67

Stewart Magill

U/A

O

53

 

68

Roma McConville

N Down

LV

57

 

69

Fred Strickland

Ballydrain

V55

31:03

 

70

Harry Teggarty

U/A

V50

06

 

71

Fintan Quinn

U/A

V45

17

 

72

Darren Herron

ACKC

O

22

 

73

Billy Magee

Larne

V60

25

 

74

Harry Harron

U/A

O

29

 

75

John Savage

Newcastle AC

V45

39

 

76

Richard Stevens

ACKC

O

32:17

 

77

Donal O'Kane

BARF

V40

30

 

78

Gregg Clark

Albertville

V40

32

 

79

Andrew Campbell

ACKC

O

35

 

80

Ricky Cowan

Willowfield

V55

40

 

81

Tish McCann

Newcastle AC

LV

48

 

82

Shileen O'Kane

BARF

LV

33:15

 

83

Barbara Brown

ACKC

LV

16

 

84

WJ Brown

Newcastle AC

V50

24

 

85

Helen Cassidy

U4EA

L

38

 

86

Paul McCormack

U4EA

O

42

 

87

Terry McQueen

BARF

V40

51

 

88

Gregg McCann

LVO

V40

56

 

89

Martina Hawkins

Newcastle AC

L

59

 

90

John McBride

BARF

V45

34:01

 

91

Ashley Fisher

U/A

V40

17

 

92

Ian Taylor

BARF

V55

22

 

93

James Smyth

U/A

V40

25

 

94

John Findlay

U/A

O

30

 

95

Trevor Wilson

BARF

V40

38

 

96

Francis Boal

Ballydrain

V55

35:08

 

97

John Adgey

ACKC

V55

14

 

98

Clarke Campbell

BARF

O

30

 

99

Denis Rankin

BARF

V55

40

 

100

Charlotte Smith

ACKC

L

44

 

101

Connel Nugent

Newcastle AC

V40

45

 

102

Mark Pruzina

BARF

O

36:15

 

103

Barry Rankin

ACKC

V45

51

 

104

Francis Foyle

Team Purple

O

58

 

105

Peter Turkington

ACKC

V45

37:58

 

106

Sue Middleton

U/A

LV

38:06

 

107

Mark Eccles

Ballydrain

V45

36

 

108

Bill Hopkins

LVO

V55

46

 

109

Wendy Findlay

U/A

LV

58

 

110

Greg Lennon

U4EA

O

39:40

 

111

Seamus White

U/A

V45

53

 

112

Pauline O'Hara

BARF

LV

40:30

 

113

Dessie O'Hagan

Mourne Ramblers

O

50

 

114

Hugh McCloy

Mid Ulster

V45

41:08

 

115

Claire Galbraith

ACKC

LV

57:20

 

116

Sue Farmer

ACKC

LV

57:30

 

117

Gerard McGrath

ACKC

O

DNF

 

118

Francis O'Hagan

Team Purple

V45

DNF