Ollie to represent NI

Ollie to represent NI

25 August 2021

WITH the British and Irish Junior Mountain Running Championship looming in September, Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association held a trial race on Saturday past in order to select teams. 

Even after saying he would never race in the mountains again, Ollie Robinson headed to the hills at Happy Valley to take part in the U-17 race. 

The forecast earlier in the week had suggested that the weather might improve for the 2pm start but this wasn’t the case. 

Meelmore and Meelbeag were blanketed in low cloud and there was persistent drizzle.

For safety reasons it was decided to alter the route so runners would either run on mountain trails or use walls as route markers. 

However, this change did not make the course any easier as the U-17 and U-20 runners set off together with a 550m uphill climb along a very rocky and slippy path towards the summit of Meelmore. 

The route then took a nearly 360 degrees turn to descend along the wall. 

Ollie found the uphill part hard work so ped down the field, but he caught up quite a few places on the descent with his ‘no holds barred’ downhill technique. 

As the runners appeared from the mist it was obvious how difficult the run had been to that point.  All were covered in mud with a few getting a bit battered by the repeated falls in the very waterlogged ground.  

It was then a right-hand turn to run parallel to the wall on sloping ground towards Meelmore Lodge carpark and back. 

The race distance was six kilometres with a total climb of nearly 900 feet.

Ollie finished third in the U-17 boys category and eighth overall in a time of 36 minutes and 40 seconds. 

This gained him a place to represent NI in the U-17 squad at the British and Irish U-17 and U-20 Championships which are being held in NI on September 4. 

This is commendable since at 14 years of age he is younger than many in that category. Well done to the NIMRA crew who organised a very professional event. 

The course was well marked and there were plenty of volunteers who ensured everyone was safe & well looked after. 

The Vitality Big Half which took place in London last weekend had three East Down AC members taking part. 

All three are living in England but stay in touch with the club on a regular basis which is appreciated. 

Deo Kato was doing pacing duties for his girlfriend so he did not go out to target a time. He reported back that the atmosphere was fantastic and there was a real feeling of excitement to be back at a mass event. 

Hannah Somani has been training hard for the upcoming London Marathon. She would love to break the three-hour barrier and saw this race as a chance to practise pacing as well as tick off a long run.

Her time of one hour 29 minutes is a very good encourager. 

Aaron McGrady, with some recent successes in fell races, was out to enjoy a flatter route for a change.

He was mindful of the Slieve Donard Race coming up this Saturday so he was determined to run within himself. 

He was more than happy with his time of one hour and 18 minutes. With 10,000 people taking part it is impressive that Aaron was was 202nd overall and Hannah was 957th. 

Aaron is also to be congratulated on being selected as reserve for the Northern Ireland mountain running team for the senior home internationals in Cumbria. 

Looking ahead, if you want to get out and race this weekend there are local races available but both events are online entry in advance so you need to get organised if you want to take part. 

On Friday, as part of the annual Strangford Festival, there will be a ten kilometre and five kilometre event starting at 7pm.  

The races start and finish at the car park below Inverbrenna Hall, Stella Maris Street. The route goes out of the town through Castleward estate. 

For more information please contact Brendan Kerr on 07863 900138, or alternatively via email: bkerr674@c2kni.net. 

Bright GAC are also hosting a race thisg weekend which will again offer a choice between ten kilometres and five kilometres.  If you are under 25 you can enter for free. Their event takes place on Sunday at 10am and the start is the Bright Community Hall. Pre-registration is open at www.brightgac.ie/run.