Sun 24 Oct 2010 – 23:28
Saturday 2nd October 2010 saw the staging of the inaugural Causeway Coast Ultra Martahon. The 39.3mile event was held in conjunction with a 26.2 mile Marathon, 13.1mile Half Marathon and 10 kilometer races. All of the routes traversed the paths, tracks, beaches and coastline of the Causeway Coast Way.
The Ultra started at 7.15am on the Strand in Portstewart on a very, chilly, windy, morning. Dawn had barley broken when 4 members of Newry City Runners joined the strong field of endurance atheletes from across Britain and Ireland. Jackie Malone, Damien McStay, Ronan Mynes and Tony Malone represented their club. Just over 1 mile of soft sand warmed up the leg and calf muscles for the day to come. Off the beach and then through the town of Portstewart and along the coastal path to Portrush.
The early morning streets were deserted as the atheletes quietly made their way back onto the sands and the beach at Portrush. The route took them along the entire length of the beach and then onto the coast road passing Dunluce Castle and onto Portballintrae. This was the 13mile mark for the Ultra Runners and they were now joined by the Marathon Runners. Four Newry City Runners took on the challenge of the 26.2 Marathon, Dale & Denise Mathers, Paul Watters & Joe Finnegan. The Marathon started at 9.30am. This is an out and back route, almost entirely off road, passing The Giants Causeway, Dunseverick Harbour, White Park Bay, and Ballintoy Harbour before turning at the quaint Harbour and returning along the same route.
The biting wind had subsided and the October sun had broken through the early morning clouds giving ideal conditions for the combined field of Marathon and Ultra Marathon runners. Within a few miles the course entered the Giants Causeway itself. The runners experienced the dramatic scenery and negotiated the many steep flights of steps at the famous landmark although there was little time for sightseeing or photography. From here on it was along the Causeway Coast Path for the next ten or so miles with runners scrambling across rocks, shore lines and along miles and miles of soft sand which strained even the experienced competitors. The turn at Ballintoy Harbour was welcome but it did mean that the whole experience of getting there was about to be repeated on the 13.1 mile race home.
Nevertheless all Newry City Runners completed their own challenges. Dale Mathers did the club proud by not only completing the marathon, but by winning it outright. Dale’s wife Denise was a brilliant 2nd place in the Ladies Marathon making it a highly successful day for the duo. Paul Watters and Joe Finnegan competed in their first Causeway Marthon and completed the course with very respectable times. The four hardy Ultra Runners also returned top placings although on an arduous weekend of Sand, Sea, Sun and Suffering, the finishing time becomes irrelevant and the task of just finishing takes precedent in arguably the toughest Ultra Distance Race in Ireland.
The Causeway Ultra Marathon, Marathon, Half Marathon, & 10k races are organised by 26 Extreme Ltd, a locally based Professional Event Organisation and Management Team further details of their up and coming events can be found at www.26extreme.com