Spelga Skyline Fell Race

The Spelga Skyline fell race is one of the long distance events in the NIMRA Championship race calendar, and every year I experience the exhausting pleasure that accompanies the role of Race Director. 

Now in its fourth year since returning to the championship. The ‘Denis Rankin Memorial’ Spelga Skyline is possibly the most challenging race of the season. Often requiring navigation across open mountain.

This year we made a video 🙂

Thanks to my video assistant on the day, Geoff Smyth, and also to all the great BARF marshals.

Denis Rankin Round

My alarm went off at 12:30am. I had 30 minutes before I would need to be on the road to Carricklittle Car Park in the eastern Mournes. I was to meet my friend Colm Kelly. He would start the round with me at 3am, a further 30 minutes down the road in Newcastle. Colm and I would run the first 3 hours together before I would continue on for another 16, whereas he would go on to work!

The Denis Rankin Round is an ultra endurance and navigational challenge set in the Mourne Mountains. It’s a clockwise or anti-clockwise self-navigated route, following a list of 39 peaks, all to be completed in under 24 hours. In total, it covers approximately 90km with 6500m of elevation gain. The route was devised by some members of Denis Rankin’s fell running club, BARF, in memory of Denis, a pioneer in Northern Irish fell running. Continue reading

UTMB CCC – The Surprise of 2015

2015 was going OK. I started training after Christmas for Rotterdam marathon in April. It was going well, although I picked up a few niggles after a ski trip late February, and didn’t get my long runs long enough to have a great race.

Throughout the flat tempo training I severily missed the mountains, and my legs certainly felt weaker when I returned to fell running post Rotterdam.
It was at that point I started strength training with a personal trainer. The objective was simple – build strength to make me a better runner. Less than 2 month in *POP* ….I put out my back. A herniated L5 disc to be precise. Sciatica was my new friend for the next while. Continue reading

3×3000 80k Ultra Trail – Race Report Part 2

Race report continued…

I stopped at the Wythburn checkpoint for maybe 10 minutes, in hindsight it was a bit too long, but I put that down to being cold and wet. Changing clothes is hard enough in a race. Throw in being soaked through and covered in mud and see how long it takes! Nonetheless Ian Mulvey was on hand to remind me this was a race and to crack-on!

Wet and in good spirits at Wythburn checkpoint.

Wet and in good spirits at Wythburn checkpoint.

Continue reading

3×3000 80k Ultra Trail – Race Report Part 1

The summer was dry. The recce weekend was dry. Plenty of weekends, long runs and mountain days were even sunny and warm. Well that all ended on Thursday 2nd October – 2 days before the inaugural 3×3 Ultra Trail.

I woke up early on the morning of Friday 3rd to heavy rain. The kind that had been beating down all night. Things were not looking good for the race. I proceeded to make my way to the ferry for the 6.30am boat across to Scotland, and subsequent driving south to Keswick in the Lake District. It rained heavily the whole time. If the rain stopped now the race would still be a wet one.
Continue reading