Mourne Skyline MTR (skyrunner UK series)

The Mourne skyline MTR race was my hardest challenge to date.  I trained religiously every weekend for 10 weeks in the Mournes increasing my miles and elevation.  There was even a sneaky MMM 2day race in there.  I was not going to embarrass myself and I wanted to nail this race.  The course is 35km, elevation gain is 11056ft and there are ten summits to climb.

The before shot.

Route:  The route starts on Newcastle  promenade and follows the Granite trail picking up the glen river path to the saddle.  The Brandy pad is next then Slieve Bernagh for the first time and Meelmore, a drop off down to the Mourne way and unto the halfway point at Fofanny dam.  Next it’s a short road section and the race really starts, see the attached profile of the route.

The first section up to the saddle and on the Brandy pad I was feeling pretty strong but held myself back as I knew the worst was yet to come.  I snacked on jelly babies every half an hour or so and had sorreen fruit loaf slices with peanut butter every hour and a half/two hours.  The sorreen was going down very slowly, normally I can eat it no problem but it was a real struggle this time.  I was drinking water and filling up either from a stream or the water stops provided.  At the halfway point I had food in my drop bag but apart from the salted crisps and banana I didn’t really need it.   My goal was to get to the halfway point in 2hour 45mins.  I arrived here in 2.32.56.

The ascent near millstone quarry.  Photo Jayne Bell.
Coming off Meelmore to the halfway point, photo Mickey Shields.
For me Meelbeg was the hardest climb, my knees and hip were starting to play up and I had a few cramps in my stomach.  Maybe it was because I knew there were so many climbs still to come so I had a good talking to myself and got back to thinking of small goals (summits) not of the race.  I popped two Paracetomol which took the edge off the pain.
On the mourne way, photo Jayne Bell.
Bernagh for the second time was a tight climb, the wind was horrendous and I was getting blown around a lot, I resorted to hands and knees as it was safer, the summit tor’s were a very welcome sight, it was at this point I really appreciated the Marshalls job.  They must have been frozen stood there all day but they gave encouragement to the runners every time.

Then before I knew it I was on Corragh and starting to pass a couple of runners which spurred me on.  The ground was very slippy and I had my usual falls and tumbles down pretty much every mountain,  I wasn’t going to let this slow me down as the decent’s are where i’m strongest.  I love flying past people coming off mountains, they normally catch me on the way back up again though.

With the thought of cold crisp water from the pipe on Commedagh I pushed myself on and over the summit dipping my ‘dibber’ knowing I had one more big push up Donard.  I could see runners descending the left of the wall as I started my final climb.  The summit was wild, the wind was so strong I couldn’t make out what the marshall was saying!

In the knowledge that it was all downhill I took off my windproof, rolled up my sleeves and went as hard as my legs could carry me down the Glen river path to the finish.

The race was fantastic!  Great organisation on all parts and I have to say a big thank you to all the marshals who gave up their day to make the race possible.  Once I got my medal I felt an enormous sense of achievement and very proud of myself.

My favourite wee man.

OMM 6l race waist pack.
500ml water.
Large packet of jelly babies.
Two slices of soreen loaf with peanut butter.
Mars bar.
Aclimatise Zephyr jacket
Beanie hat.
Running gloves.
Space blanket.
Paracetomol and Ibuprofen.

Drop bag:
Ready salted crisps with added salt.
Spare snickers, jelly babies which I didn’t use.

Taking part in a race like this just gives me the drive to do another Skyrunning race, the medal and t shirt were definitely worth it!

06.28.10 was my chip time, 89th out of 116 starters.  The winning female (Stevie Kremer) current world champion skyrunning distance champion got an impressive time of 4.24.25 and came 10th overall, 2nd place female was Jo Meek in 12th place with 04.30.32.  I spotted them after in Nikki’s cafe and Jo came over and said hello, she was really nice and said the route was very tough with lots of technical descents.  I had to get a photo, Stevie was tiny, I looked tall next to her.

Stevie Kremer, me and Jo Meek.

Next up for me is some serious work over the winter on my conditioning and getting stronger on the hill climbs.  Come next summer I want to be stronger than I am now at running up and down mountains.

Thanks for reading

Claire x