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Skyrunning with an Irish flavour

by Robert Britton
Tuesday 21st October 2014

Race report: Recovered after a second place in the Mourne Skyline Granit Trail Race (GTR), Run247 columnist Robert Britton reports from Mourne Skyline, the final event in the inaugural SkyRunning UK series

The British Isles may struggle geographically to stick to the two thousand metre altitude rule of SkyRunning's charter but we sure can make the races as tough as bloody possible.

The inaugural SkyRunning UK Mourne Skyline event has some impressive numbers - 35km with nearly 3500m of ascent - over rough, technical terrain. Add into this thick cloud, 35 knot winds on top, plenty of summits and a killer descent down from Slieve Donnard to the finish and it makes for one monumental race.

As well as this, there was the two mile uphill only race on the Friday night, one that I was lucky enough to participate in, that went from Newcastle along the local granite trail up to a quarry.

Mourne Skyline

Photos: Game face for the GTR uphill race and the last incline of the uphill race © Aaron Shimmons

The weather timed it nicely for the 7:30 start of the Granite Trail Race (GTR) and, standing at the start line in vest & shorts, I questioned the wisdom of my decision to sprint off into the headwind as Ryan Maxwell, Race Director, kicked things off in the pouring rain. My Petzl Tikka RXP was firmly strapped to my head to light the way once we got into the woods without it blowing away in the wind. The weather was grim.

A mixture of fire road, muddy trail, rocky path and large granite steps made for a quick starting pace and, although I was unable to keep up with local Fell Runner Seamus Lynch on the steep ascents, there was a good race for second with Matty Hewitt and my legs and lungs were on fire at the finish. Sarah McCormack, a fellow inov-8 runner, was first female and just behind us in fourth.

The main event took place the next day, with the wind blowing for all it's worth and 150 runners setting off from Newcastle city centre and straight up through the col between Northern Ireland's two highest peaks, which the runners would see more of later!

Kim Collison, British Trail Ultra champ, was leading up the first climb, with a few local runners, US runner J. Marshall Thompson, Team Centurion's Paul Navesey and Paul Tierney all in close attendance as they came past me, cheering "Allez Allez" with my cow bell, trying to give the race a European SkyRunning feel!

Not far behind this was the ladies race, which saw Stevie Kremer, World Skyrunning Champ, Salamon runner and big fan of the way British people say "banana", versus Jo Meek, British Trail Ultra Champ, Scott Runner and a very cheeky lass. These two were going to be back and forth all day, on a course that didn't really play to either of their strengths.

Mourne Skyline

Photos: Kim Collison leading up the first climb and at the finish.

At the halfway point Kim however was very much enjoying the rough, technical descending that he is so good at and had opened up a lead on Eoin Lennon in second. Kim, most likely fuelled by a pocket full of 9bars, was first across the line, to add to the superb record he has from this season.

Eoin was chased all the way to the finish by Marshall, who found the trail somewhat different to the routes around Colorado, but was probably benefiting from the abundance of oxygen in the air here in Ireland, compared to his high mountain home! Great runs by both athletes who went over more than a couple of times!

Stevie managed to pull away from Jo in the second half and made the most of the final descent to make it a another SkyRunning victory for the primary school teacher from the States. Jo gave it her all but it wasn't enough this weekend. Given that this is her first year of SkyRunning style races, it will be great to see how Jo goes in the future. Post race recovery in the mouth of the River Glen should see her back in training pretty quickly with the World 100k Champs coming up soon.

Mourne Skyline

Photos: Just ahead of Jo Meek, Stevie Kremer crusing uphill and Stevie Kremer finishing 1st lady

All in all a great event in a town that has possibly the greatest cake per capita ratio of anywhere in the world, with all types of bakery going on. The post race feed looked like they had chained some little old ladies to a cooker for a whole week! What a spread!

With this being the conclusion to the first SkyRunning UK season, it was good to see such a well organised, competitive and challenging event. We may not have huge mountains in the UK but, as Stevie said, this is one really tough race, much harder than Zegama-Aizkorri. I ran Zegama this year and upon hearing that I was glad I stayed down in town to work on my cake eating skills instead.

Watch this space as I reckon this race will become one of the best events in the UK, if not Europe, in years to come and it may not be too long before we see even more of the World's running royalty gracing these inhospitable fells.

Mourne Skyline

Photos: Jo Meek & Paul Navesey going for some post race recovery in the River Glen. The cakes!

For more information on Skyrunning UK please visit  www.skyrunninguk.com

For more information on the Mourne Skyline please visit  www.mourneskylinemtr.com

Men's Mourne Skyline MTR 2014 results

1 Kim Collison Borrowdale AC/England 03:57:09
2 Eoin Lennon Carnethy HRC 03:59:42
3 J Marshall Thomson DynaFit/USA 04:08:38


Women's Mourne Skyline MTR 2014 results

1 Stevie Kremer Team Salomon/USA 04:24:25
2 Jo Meek Winchester AC/England 04:30:32
3 Diane Wilson Dromore AC 04:45:41


Men's Granit Trail Race results

1 Seamus Lynch Newcastle AC 00:16:18
2 Robbie Britton Team GB & NI 00:17:12
3 Matthew Hewitt East Coast AC 00:17:19


Women's Granit Trail Race results

1 Sarah McCormack Morfoot Runners/Ireland 00:17:29
2 Kerry Speers North Down AC 00:20:28
3 Charlene Abraham Unattached 00:21:09


Click here for full results


About The Author

Robert Britton

Robbie is a 100 mile runner who is a member of the Great Britain 24hr Running Squad and Team Centurion and likes to run ridiculous distances as quickly as possible.

To provide enough food to feed a monster running habit, Robbie coaches other ultra marathon runners through www.robbiebritton.co.uk and is also a member of the coaching team at Centurion Running. He likes to dabble with a bit of writing so that others can learn from his mistakes and enjoy the sport as much as he does.

Robbie is also a is a Profeet ambassador.


"Pain is inevitable, suffering is just part of the fun"


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