The 2020 Skyrunner UK & Ireland season concludes this coming weekend with the Mourne Skyline MTR. It has not been a normal year with races cancelled worldwide. It has been a tough year for all. Race directors, Ryan and Justin Maxwell have been with the UK series from the very beginning and their sold-out race has often been flagship event of the series. Gladly, they have been able to adjust and formulate a plan to make the 2020 event happen.
Athletes from 14 countries will toe the start albeit in a different way to the past 6 editions. Ryan and Justin have formulated a Covid-19 operational delivery plan and you are strongly recommended to keep up with procedures and any potential updates via the race website and Facebook page HERE. It is important that everyone involved in the event is aware of and understands what measures have been put in place and how what is expected of them.
In terms those who can and cannot travel. There are no issues with participants from GB coming to Northern Ireland with the UK common travel path / corridor. However, our friends from Ireland cannot travel into Northern Ireland because they have local restrictions in place which do not allow them to leave their county. In relation to those from other countries outside of the home nations – that is based on the government quarantine list.
“For those affected by restrictions later a virtual option has been created to make them feel part of the event and show our appreciation for their support.” – Ryan Maxwell
Race HQ has been moved to GREENHILL YMCA, DONARD PARK, NEWCASTLE. There is NO car parking at Race HQ – participants must park in Donard Car Park and walk to Greenhill YMCA; this is approximately 800m away.
As per our COVID-19 Operational Delivery Plan, your temperature will be checked before you enter Race HQ and you will be handed a surgical mask to wear. Please also use the hand sanitizer just inside the entrance.
Race HQ will be OUTSIDE, so please dress appropriately in case you have to wait. Toilets / Showers / Changing: The Donard Park Pavilion will NOT be open for use as per previous years. This building is closed due to COVID-19 risks. Public toilets are available in Donard Car Park. It is important to note that Newry, Mourne & Down Council plan to open these at 8am. However, we are working hard to have this changed to 7am. However, please be prepared for their opening at 8am should we not succeed in this. There will be NO showering facilities available at the event. There will be NO Changing facilities available at the event. Participants should come to the race ready to compete, and then have enough warm clothing with them to put on until they can get a warm shower and get changed.
The Mourne Mountains and Race
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.
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.
Two key names stand out amongst the start list, Brennan Townshend for the men and Kasia Osipowicz for the women. Kasia the UK & Ireland Series champion. Brennan the reigning champion and course record holder.
Ian Bailey and Paul Tierney amongst others will no doubt push Brennan all the way to the line.
Shileen O’Kane is an ever-present in the Mournes and she knows how to run this race with her eyes closed, she will be a hot favourite for the podium along with Ekaterina Crocker.
Ultimately, it will be great to have the UK & Ireland Series conclude in 2020 with the iconic Mourne Skyline MTR race. With its conclusion, we can all look ahead to 2021 and full year of racing!