Sunday, April 1, 2012

Mullaghmeen Report

Mullaghmeen Hill Run 2012
The first of April fooled everyone into thinking it was summer with the lush countryside basking in the warmth of the sunshine and Lough Sheelin glistening like the Med. The Mullaghmeeen Hill Run attracted over one hundred runners for the first time ever. The St Brigids Athletic club under the direction of international hill and mountain runner Gerard Heery plotted a great challenge for the field which came from as far afield as Roscommon and Wexford. The five kilometre course took the runners through the wonderful beech forest through bluebell blossoms to the highest point which offers a great view of the north midlands and the cairns of Loughcrew.
Race director, Gerard Heery was at the head of proceedings at the midway point with two great young distance runners in close attendance, Rob Tully and Andrew Coscoran from Star of the Sea AC. The eventual third place finisher Alan Kelly from Roscommon was keeping a watching brief as the leading group hit the sharp descent into the woodland area near the Booleys. Like cycling descending with confidence is an integral part of a hill runners repertoire and not for the first time Gerard Heery’s experience and assurance helped him take the county crown once again. His pursuers Tully and Coscoran are still in their teens and represent a bright future for Meath distance running. They will have every reason to be very proud of their performances. The third placed runner Alan Kelly, Roscommon has recently begun working at Beaufort College and will make an impression on the local scene in the next few months. He brought a team of youngsters from the school to this race and expressed hopes to increase and improve the schools profile in athletics this year. In the M50 grade visitor Gerard Malony made the long journey from Wexford worthwhile by filling top spot ahead of cross country and road specialist Paddy Mangan.

Last year’s first woman home was Karen O Hanlon an other experienced hill running member of Dunboyne AC. Karen has a successful record in the IMRA series which takes in races throughout South Dublin and Wicklow every summer. O Hanlon prevailed at the end over the ever improving local runner Elaine Plunkett . There was a strong Meath interest with third place going to former world champion age group mountain runner Mags Greenan, a native of Trim running for Clonliffe Harriers. The fourth woman home was Ciara Rooney, Navan AC who is a young colleague of Plunkett on county cross country squads. Laura Farrell form Fr Murphy AC put in a made light work of the steady climb and took the junior women’s title.The Hunter family completed a successful day with Ann crossing the line as first W40, Derek finished second to David O Connell in the M40 class and their son Alex lead the under 16 boys home.
After the race the former president of Athletics Ireland , Michael Heery spoke of the widening appeal of the event and how it attracted increased support from other counties. He thanked the officials of the Irish Mountain Running Association for their support in staging the event while county athletics board chairman Brendan Meade complimented the host club for their organisation, presentation and hospitality. In common with many of the races in the county running league this race represented great value for money with an entry fee of just ten euro. In these times of economic difficulty Meath Athletics Board through their affiliated clubs endeavour to give participants a good racing experience with a friendly sociable experience which is often missing from the major commercially driven mass participation events.

The Meath Running League continues through the summer and autumn and all events will be listed in the local press and online. The Meath Board and clubs welcome runners and joggers of all abilities. They are encouraged to join their local club for up for training advice,group training sessions, encouragement, support and insurance benefits. This race incorporates the Meath County Hill running championships and the team results will be finalised later in the week.

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