Keith comes to grief on Annagh Hill
The National Intermediates did not offer the only outlet for runners craving an escape from tarmac and track over the 5/6 Feb in Ireland with both IMRA and Urban Trail Series fixtures scheduled at Annagh Hill and Tymon Park…
Keane and Kenny win on Annagh Hill
Race director Paul Joyce has long conducted what some have jokingly referred to as a viral marketing campaign for his newly conceived course on the border between Wicklow and Wexford – the Winter League race on Annagh Hill.
Offering a microcosm of all the available terrains common to the Wicklow Mountains, the route threatened to offer both a devastating ascent up a grassy ride followed by several spells of technical descending. Described as being closer in character to a championship race than a conventional league race, many recent IMRA converts were in for their first real taste of old-fashioned mountain running.
The event garnered a hugely popular reception something that may provide a further boost to the growing championship attendance in the last few years.
But not all went according to plan: on a wet and dreary day two former Leinster League winners went head to head with Kevin Keane dictating the early pace before Eoin Keith, looking to secure a third win on the trot and with it the league title, hung on close and briefly snuck into the lead.
The main climb proved decisive as Kevin Keane had pulled forty seconds clear with Suzanne Kenny leading Karen O’Hanlon by around half a minute.
Both summit leaders were ferociously pursued and the chasers looked to both be gaining when Eoin Keith took a bad twist on his ankle leading to a broken fibula which both ended his race and likely his Winter League challenge as six weeks on the side-lines is expected. This left it wide open for Kevin Keane who could celebrate a one minute winning margin over Peter O’Farrell with Ben Mooney in third.
While her gap dwindled somewhat, Suzanne Kenny stayed cool and committed on the descent, a potential weakness the newcomer’s competitors may have sought to exploit, finishing in 53:03 against Karen O’Hanlon’s 53:23. The two ladies had left no gap open or door unbolted for other female competitors with third-placed Maeve O’Grady five minutes further out.
With a number of new routes making the calendar in recent years, time will tell if Annagh Hill can establish itself as a regular feature but the 135 participants and glowing kudos articulated by many runners, it has certainly put itself in a strong position and race director Paul Joyce and Leinster Championship director Paul Nolan are rumoured to be plotting a longer championship version.
Tymon Park offers second round of “Urban Trails”
Second round of the Urban Trail Series took place in Tymon Park where William Morris pulled clear off the field to consign Levente Dorogi to runners-up spot. Unusually the battle for third was also the battle for victory in the ladies’ category: two internationals battled each other with Aoife Byrne holding a five second gap through the first half of the race before pulling decisively away for a 41:10 to 41:39 win against Donna Mahon, Rathfarnham.
The shorter 4.75km race saw 87 runners compete with Terry McCarron taking the men’s honours and Maura Ginty first woman in fifth overall. With an impressive 171 starters in the long race, the series moves from strength to strength and these sojourns into the major parks of Dublin a regular fixture.
As several participants have admitted they have seen trails “they never knew existed” in Tymon and St. Anne’s Park, and perhaps more off-road enthusiasts will be born making the same discovery at Marlay Park
Results at Urban Trail Series and photos at Action Photography.