Seven Sisters Skyline AUG 15.
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The sun was shining inDunlewey, Co. Donegal last Saturday for the Seven Sisters Skyline race, a 52k mountain run starting at the foot of Mount Errigal and part of the UK-Ireland National Skyrunning Series. With Covid 19 restrictions the event was primarily an all Ireland event, with International participants unable to travel.
Nearly 180 competitors set out early on a bright, sunny morning to the start line near the village of Dunlewey. The out and back course took in all seven peaks of the Derryveagh Mountains with all but the highest peak, Mount Errigal, being covered twice. With sections called ‘Bridge of Tears’ and ‘Heart Attack Hill’ this was never going to be an easy day out. The competitors had to contend with everything from soft, heathery bog and open mountain to rock and scree, often having to scramble on hands and knees over the loose stone. The 4000 metres of climbing and tough terrain was made even more difficult by the heat on the day with temperatures of 26 degrees C. Not the usual conditions expected for the Donegal mountains.
The first competitor to cross the finish line was one of Ireland’s top endurance athletes and local man Shaun Stewart who completed the 52k in 7:11:13. Grant Mackellar came in 2nd in 7:52:20 followed closely by Aidan McMoreland in 7:52:35.
In the women’s race, Laura O’Driscoll Ireland’s top adventure athlete took first place in a time of 8:22:43, and a top 10 finish overall. With the course 2 km longer this year she obliterated the previous course record set by Kasia Osipowicz in 2019 by over 20 minutes. Ellen Vitting took 2nd place in 8:39:08 with Karalee McBride rounding out the top three in 9:09:32.
With the brutal course and hot conditions around one third of the field failed to finish the official 52km course, making this one of Ireland’s most challenging events.