So here we are again, ready for another weekend of Mourne Mountain challenges in the form of the Mourne Mountain Marathon and over 180 teams are ready to take on the various courses. Covid is still a big part of our lives and many of the restrictions used to prevent its spread are still in place, but fortunately we are in a better position than we were this time last year when the prospect of cancelation was a very real possibility.
I have been having a look at the entry lists and see that our elite winners of last year, Paul Pruzina and Philip Vokes are back to defend their title. I know Paul has been running well and Philip teamed up with his brother Matthew earlier in the year to be the top team in the Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon in the Lake District. So Paul and Philip are probably the favorites to win again but Matthew is also here with another good runner, John Ockenden so look out for them.
Another really good team is the mixed team of Shane Lynch and Karalee Mc Bride who claimed forth place overall last year. They have both been into big endurance challenges recently and indeed Shane set a new Rankin Round record back in June. I see that John Ryan, an early record holder for the Denis Rankin Round is also entered with partner Alex McVey, and Mr Double DRR endurance man Billy Reed is teamed up with Alan Elwood who recently fulfilled a life time’s ambition by completing the Bob Graham round.
The B class winning ladies team from last year, Heather Corden and Helen Ockenden have moved up to the elite category where they find Ciara Largy a former B class winner teamed up with Rebecca Quinn. That could make for an interesting battle for the ladies title. In fact quite a few teams have moved up from the B class to sample the elite which is good news. Paul Mahon and Moire O’Sullivan are regular elite competitors and they look like they are going to be involved in a very competitive four way veteran battle where the system is now designed to allow all vets to compete equally regardless of gender or age.
In the B class there are also interesting possibilities. Last year Tommy Begley and Alasdair McCallum thought they had won the B class only to discover at the finish line that they had missed a marker. That was a total sickener so they are back looking to try and remove that blot from their long MMM CV. Jonathan McCloy and James Turner, second that day and Craig McCauley and William Shields in third place might have other plans though!
I don’t think I will look any deeper into the crystal ball, No doubt I have overlooked some really good teams due to a lack of information, but whatever the outcome I hope everybody enjoys the weekend and that the weather will be interesting rather than freaking out. Unfortunately there will be no prize giving ceremony or any other activities where we are likely to clump together but we hope you will none the less enjoy socially distanced competition and socializing.
On a final sad note, The Mourne Mountain Marathon committee would like to express their condolences to the family and friends of Stuart Hamilton who lost his life in a tragic accident last weekend. Stuart had competed in the event in recent years and was entered for this year’s B class.
Jim Brown, Course Director