The 2019 Skyrunner UK & Ireland season concludes this coming weekend with the Mourne Skyline MTR. The race has grown to become a beacon of the UK & Ireland series, race directors, Ryan and Justin Maxwell have been with us from the very beginning and their sold out race is a flagship event.
A race is on for podium places in the Skyrunning UK & Ireland series for the top-10 places, the overall male and female champion was decided in Wales with Damien Gielty and Kasia Ospiowicz gaining a lead that was not possible to relinquish in Northern Ireland.
Owned by the National Trust, the Mourne Mountains are an area of outstanding beauty, it includes Slieve Donard (850m), the highest mountain in Northern Ireland and Ulster and as such it provides a perfect location for a mountain race.
The coastal town of Newcastle hosts the start of the race and a short section of road leads into Donard Park via the promenade entrance and the ‘Granite Trail’ awaits for a long and relentless climb. Dundrum Bay is visible to the west, before a fast downhill section to a climb of the stony and challenging Glen River Path to the Col between Slieve Donard and Slieve Commedagh.
Comprised of forest path, fire roads, single track, granite trail and tough uneven broken fell, the race is a tough challenge. Among the more famous features, the Mourne Wall is a key element of this region and a key aspect of the race. In just 35km the course has a brutal 3370m of ascent and no less than 9 peaks, the highest being Slieve Donard at 850m.
Race director, Ryan Maxwell is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to racing and looking ahead to the weekend, he gave his thoughts:
“It is hard to look past Irish international, Nicola Duncan, if she is in form she is a great contender for the win! However, local lady and current Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Champion, Esther Dickson will be worth watching – she knows the course well!
With Kasia racing the SkyMasters at Limone, Italy, Maggie Dempsey and Sophie Grant are distinct podium potential and Sophie, as the defending UK Series champion is the hot favourite. Shileen O’Kane also will race, the 2017 Mourne champion.”
For the men, Rob Sinclair is travelling from the UK to toe the line. Rob is a forced to be reckoned with and if conditions are favourable, Rob may not only win but has the potential for a new course record. Let’s not forget Paul Tierney too… earlier this year, Paul ran in incredible Wainwrights record – the Mourne somewhat shorter though.
“Reigning champion Brennan Townshend will for sure have a great race,” said Ryan. “ The final podium place will be closely contested between Martin Lynch and Jonny Steede if they both have good days. However, let’s not rule out Brian Furey and Robert Jones too.”
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Racing takes place on Saturday 19th at 0900, 35km with 3700m +
Race website HERE