Irish Mountain
Running Association

Sliabh Daean


Turlough Conway

Slieve Daeane report (race director)

Slieve Daeane or Sliabh Dá Éan, translates as 'mountain of two birds' and is part of 4 peaks in the Eastern end of the Ox mountains in Sligo. Aside from the nice name and appearance it is a wild piece of mountain and makes for a tough piece of mountain racing. Most of the climbing is completed via the picturesque Sligo way, but things turn gnarly once the open mountain is encountered.
36 hardy souls turned up to race and in truth this number could have been doubled had my promotion been a little less low key!
A good contingent of runners and volunteers came from the long established Sligo Trailrunners Group and between these and other local off-road runners there was a ready made sizable base only too eager to get stuck into a race like this.
In the women’s race Eimear O'Brien, a regular on the podium in IMRA races, looked to be the favourite on paper.
Indeed she had a decent lead at the summit but not too long after she turned to descend she would have seen local based runner Marion McAfee not too far back. Summiting in third, Sligo Trailrunner’s Aoife Burns led a trio of runners with Elizabeth Flynn and Karyn Reynolds. Eimear held her lead to take the win in an excellent 45:50 with Marion holding well for a great second and Karyn taking off hard once she hit the smoother surface and like Marion passing a few bodies on the way down (live ones) to take an excellent third. Looking at the times, the 4 female positions from 2-5 were all within 3% of Eimear’s time. That would put them top 5 in most Leinster (Dublin area included) races which they should take great encouragement from. The McGettrick sisters were next followed by Eithne McShane formerly of Donegal now of Strandhill running with another de facto Strandhillian, cameraman extraordinaire John Shiels.
In the men’s race an intriguing battle was in store. Favourites were: Leitrim’s Ricki Wynne who holds the world record for metres ascended and descended in 24 hrs (15 up/downs of Croagh Patrick this year in a day); Seamus Sommers local Sligo AC flyer, 49 years old but knocking on the door of a sub 32 min 10km and a natural climber and descender (as many of us have painfully learned during the Warriors Run); and Aidan McMoreland another Sligo native and elite national adventure racer. Would the race be long enough for Ricki? Would it be fast enough for Seamus? Or would the all rounder Aidan benefit from the diversity of terrain in the race?
Sommers led the trio onto the open mountain but despite the ferocious pace the mountain specialists had enough in reserve to gain the lead. McMoreland, who knows the mountain well, had a few seconds gap over Wynne at the top with Sommers maybe 15 seconds back. Wynne had reconnected to McMoreland on the open mountain descent but once the surface improved Aidan was able to apply his relative speed and grind out a winning gap in an impressive 33:42. Slightly too short a race for Ricki but a useful speed session!
The speedster Sommers flew down in pursuit of the lads but there was too big a gap this time to make up.

After the race there followed great chats including about potential routes for more races and perhaps emulating other regions by getting a league going. Theresa Kilgannon from the Sligo sports and recreation partnership who is heavily involved in the local trail runners group had many ideas, as with local mountain biker and runner Rory Connor who had created many of the biking routes in the area and Aidan who has probably ran every high point in the North West in training runs. Thanks to RunPod in Sligo for providing a very generous spot prize on the day, ably represented by Paul Barr with a 6th place finish and a sub 40 for the race.
A huge thanks to all the volunteers and runners and to all the runners who offered to help out next time. These races work via volunteering and there is a massive amount of hands going up in Sligo. Till next time!