28 November, 2009
2001 Leinster League
Sugarloaf Barbeque Race - Preliminary report by Douglas Barry
At the Sugarloaf, Raheny's George Lonergan pulled the final curtain on the Irish Mountain Running Association's first Leinster League series for the 21st century. It was pulled on a stage that featured its two hitherto principal actors Simon Fairmaner and 2000 League champion Hugh McLindon in unexpected roles. Simon having wrapped up the 2001 League title in the previous race on Glasnamullan, and damaged his foot in the process, was an interested spectator while his erstwhile close rival Hugh had also suffered an injury but participated.
Hugh had damaged his knee in the Wicklow 24 hour rogaine earlier in the month and found it hard to even hobble, let alone run. However, he had only managed six races out of thirteen. To complete the League, he needed to do the Sugarloaf. He decided to walk it. Whilst walking it, Hugh made his own poignant tribute to the recently deceased IMRA member Diana Large by carrying her 2001 IMRA race number 285 one last time across her beloved Sugarloaf. Hugh finished last when so often he has finished first.
Up at the front, George Lonergan who had won the previous week's race on Glasnamullan faced a stern challenge from his own former junior international teammate Paul Nolan eleven years on from their 1990 outing in the 1990 Worlds in Austria. The pair of them set out hard on the new slightly shorter route. They were closely tracked by a gaggle of runners led by Aonghus O'Cleirigh. In the bright evening sunshine, George reached the top first and turned down the tricky scree strewn slope. Hot on his heels came Paul - a noted descender who held the record on the older course.
As they plummeted down over the rocks, Nolan started to gain ground on the less mountain experienced Raheny runner. However, George had not completely forgotten the lessons of his mountain running youth. Try as he might, Paul could not get up to a challenging position on Lonergan's shoulder. He closed, but not enough. Then, as they hit the slightly gentler lower slopes, George edged away again to come home the winner by 24 seconds. Behind the leaders, Aonghus O'Cleirigh set a new veteran's record while just fending a determined challenge from much improved fellow veteran Simon Walters.
In the absence of the spectating champion Beth McCluskey, Joan Flanagan set a new record for the women's course whilst winning this category from Una May and last year's winner Eva Mulleady. Joan also had the satisfaction of setting a veteran's record to boot. Henny Brandsma and Jane Watt won the over fifty men's and women's categories and also set new records. Jonathan Corrie had a close battle over the tricky course with Aaron Shorten to take the junior race while Heather Young won the junior women's race. On the shorter course, Fionan O'Muircheartaigh and Jonathan Philips took the honours.