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NIMRA Donard Comedagh Race

Esther Dickson, Rory Mulvaney, Paul Le Blanc, Keiron Kelly and Ciara Coffey all took on the NIMRA Donard Comedagh race on Saturday.   Weather conditions were warm and mild with good visibility on the ascent of Slieve Donard via the Quarry however,  changing visibility conditions of the Mournes took its toll on the field of 90 runners as they summited Comedagh!  Which started off as a good and easy route to navigate ended in poor visibility and runners losing their bearings.   Route choices off Comedagh were varied and many seasoned runners went off course (some veering off in the direction of Tollymore Forest rather than Donard) losing time and placings. There were 8 DNFs.  The route for the race was through Donard Forest to Thomas Quarry and then an ascent up to Slieve Donard, from there the runners then had to summit Comedagh and descend down to the familiar Forest Stile for a fast run through Donard Forest to complete in Donard Park.

Esther Dickson coming over the Donard Comedagh finish line as 1st Female
Esther Dickson coming over the Donard Comedagh finish line as 1st Female

Esther Dickson had a good run, consistent and confident in her strength and approach. Esther was on a determined role to retain her top placing of the current NIMRA leading lady and she did just that.  The club training days in the Mournes have paid dividends and Esther gained ground as she ascended Donard and then Comedagh and took the advantage of the white out conditions to navigate down to the Forest Stile and be 7th fastest runner to check in at that point.  Esther then led a fast descent through the forest and hurtled down to cross the finish line 3 seconds ahead of club buddy Rory Mulvaney. She deservedly lifted 1st female (9 minutes ahead of the next female runner, Shileen O'Kane) and 10th overall race position in a time of 1:15.33.

Rory Mulvaney had a consistently strong run gaining 6 places between Donard and the Forest Stile, and being 5th fastest person to check in to the Forest Stile checkpoint after the infamous Comedagh descent.  Rory in his descent through the forest was able to gain another place so finished in 11th place in a time of 1:15.36 on the heels of club buddy Esther Dickson.

Paul Le Blanc went from strength to strength as the race progressed and expertly gained placings from a strong ascent of Comedagh and made good navigational decisions to move from 31st place at the Donard Summit to 24th at the Forest Stile off Comedagh. Paul then with a confident descent from the stile was able to overtake more competitors to deservedly finish in 20th place in at time of 1:22.37 and proudly take the 1st MV55 category prize.

Keiron Kelly at the initial ascent through Donard Forest in NIMRA Donard Comedagh Race
Keiron Kelly at the initial ascent through Donard Forest in NIMRA Donard Comedagh Race

Kieron Kelly was 3rd to summit Slieve Donard and 4th onto the Commedagh control point, hot on the heels of Newcastle men Seamus Lynch, Mark Stephens and Zak Hanna but in the white out of Comedagh it all went wrong as he made a frustrating navigational error which cost him valuable time, energy  and his top placing.  He finished 24th overall in a time of 1:23.07 but still was able to claim 3rd MV45.

Ciara Coffey, in her debut year of mountain running was treated to a baptism of fire and experienced the typical changing mountain conditions that can make or break a mountain runners race.     However, Ciara performed great considering the challenging navigational conditions coming off Comedagh.  She was consistent in her placings on her ascent to the Quarry, Donard and Comedagh but unfortunately lost a bit of time navigationally coming off Comedagh, but only losing 5 places.  At the forest stile Ciara descended hard and fast and completed the race in 57th overall placing in a time of 1:52:10.  Ciara completed with her traditional trade mark smile.

Irish Life Health Juvenile Indoor Championships Athlone

Meadow McCauley participated in the All Ireland Indoor Championships in the AIT, Athlone at the week-end.

Meadow took part in a highly competitive U17s 800m race with top Irish names on the start list.  Meadow ran well  competing in the fastest heat of the race group, but was disappointed to miss out on reaching the final 8.  However, the 16 year old was pleased to be able to claim an All-Ireland overall U17s 10th placing.  This was the last meet for the indoor season so hard work will now be put into training for the 2019 Outdoor Championships.

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