Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race 2017

The Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race is arguably Northern Ireland's toughest and most scenic long distance race; the event is based in the Mourne Mountains, starting and finishing in seaside town of Newcastle, County Down.  The race is part of the Skyrunning UK Series, falling within the 'Skyrace' criteria.

When:  Saturday 21st October 2017 - 9am (A Race Briefing will take place at Start Area at 8.50am - All participants MUST attend)

Where:  Newcastle, County Down, Northern Ireland (Start - Promenade beside Newcastle Tourist Information Centre, Main Street, Newcastle) - Race HQ will be at the Newcastle Baptist Church Hall, 17 Bryansford Road, Newcastle, BT33 0DU.  See map HERE or photo of building HERE.

Places:  There are 250 places available for the Mourne Skyline MTR.  Once these are filled, entries will be closed.

Cost:  Affiliated Athlete - £39/Unaffiliated Athlete - £40 (Entry will be available HERE from St Patrick's Day - Friday 17th March 2017). Race entry includes Commemorative Garment, Goody Bag, Chip Timing and Refreshments (on course and post-race).

Race Registration/Pack Collection:  Compulsory registration ('Sign In') will take place at Race HQ at the Newcastle Baptist Church Hall (17 Bryansford Road, Newcastle, BT33 0DU) on Saturday 21st October 2017 between 7am and 8.30am - No one will be admitted after 8.30am - NO exceptions!  This is to ensure the safety of all competitors as everyone MUST attend the Pre-Race Briefing, which will take place at the start line on the Promenade close to Newcastle Tourist Information Centre at 8.50am.   The mandatory kit check will also take place at Race HQ during your registration process, so please have your kit with you when registering.   Please see attached map (HERE) which shows directions from Race HQ to Donard Park Pavilion (bag drop) and onto the Start close to the Newcastle Tourist Information Centre.

Prizes:  The top first three male and female athletes will receive cash prizes.  In addition to this, there will also be prizes for the male and female winners of the following categories:  U-20, Vet35, Vet40, Vet45, Vet50, Vet55 and Vet60.  Please note that only one prize will be awarded to each athlete; ie a Vet35 overall winner will NOT receive a category prize on top of the overall/main prize, the category prize will be presented to the next finisher in that category.  The prize-giving will take place at Race HQ at 5.30pm.

Results:  Provisional Results will be added to this website ('Results' page) as soon as possible after the race, a full set of results and race summary will then be uploaded to the NiRunning (Northern Ireland Running) website at www.nirunning.co.uk in the following day's.

Showers/Changing:  Shower, Toilet and Changing facilities will be available at the Donard Park Pavilion, this is located approximately 20 metres from finish area.  Participants can leave their kit in the Donard Park Pavilion prior to making their way to the Start Line. Absolutely NO kit can be left at Race HQ.  Please see the attached map (HERE) for directions from Race HQ to Donard Pavilion and onto the Start, which is located on the Promenade close to Newcastle Tourist Information Centre.

LEAVE NO TRACE:  At NiRunning we take the 'Leave No Trace' ethos extremely seriously.  We strongly believe that our stunning mountains should be left as they are found.  As such, we must stress that any litter MUST be left at designated area's (Aid Stations/Check Points).  Anyone found purposely dropping litter will be disqualified.

Course:  The course will be 35k in distance, incorporating 3,370m (11,075ft) of ascending.  See below for FULL course description and map.

Aid Stations and Checkpoints (approx distance):  
Check Point 1 (7k) - Slieve Donard/Commedagh Col (outward)
Check Point 2 (11k)  - Hares Gap (outward)
Check Point 3 (15k) - Water Service Treatment Works at Foffany Dam
Check Point 4 (24k) - Hares Gap (return)
Check Point 5 (28k) - Slieve Donard/Commedagh Col (return)

At Aid Stations 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, runners will be able to collect water.  At Aid Station 3, runners will also be able to pick up plain cake, water, energy drinks and banana's.  There is also an option to have your own drop bag (please see below) with nutritional items in it at Aid Station/Check Point 3.   The five listed Aid Stations/Check Points will be the only official re-fuelling points on the course and runners are therefore advised to ensure that they have collected enough fluid/food to get them to the next Aid Station.  In addition to the above Aid Stations, we will also allow competitors to leave ONE bag of nutritional items at the Start Area (in the boxes provided), these will be taken from the Start to Check Point 3 (Water Service Works at Foffany Dam/Slievenaman Road). 

There are several Non Aid-Station Checkpoints (which we will refer to as Summit or SPORTident Checkpoints), where competitors must use the SPORTident Timing System (one of the electronic timing we use) to show that they have reached the Summit.  It is important to note that not all Summits will be manned, but the Check Point (SPORTident) Timing Box will be in a significant position and marked with orange and white flags.  These Summit Checkpoints are located at:

- Summit Checkpoint:  Slieve Bearnagh (outward)
- Summit Checkpoint:  Slieve Meelmore (outward)
- Summit Checkpoint:  Slieve Loughshannagh (return)
- Summit Checkpoint:  Slieve Meelbeg (return)
- Summit Checkpoint:  Slieve Meelmore (return)
- Summit Checkpoint:  Slieve Bearnagh (return)
- Summit Checkpoint:  Slieve Commedagh (return) *This will be placed beside Commedagh Tower, on our course and not at the actual Summit*
- Summit Checkpoint:  Slieve Donard (return)

In all, each participant, will have a total of 10 stamps/split times on their card after taking into consideration the Aid Station Checkpoints and the stand alone Summit Checkpoints.  There will also be a finish time on the print out.

It is VERY important that race numbers are clearly visible as you pass each Aid Station/Check Point.  If a runner does not have their race number clearly visible on the front of their t-shirt/vest/jacket, they will be disqualified.  This is because it is extremely important that our team can note every runner who passes each Check Point.

Is there a 'cut off' time for this event?  Yes, we would expect anyone entering to feel that they could achieve an 8 hour finish time. This is to ensure that significant numbers of runners are not left on the mountain as darkness falls.  In addition to this and with the safety of everyone in mind, there will also be a STRICT cut off at the furtherest point of the course, anyone who does not reach the NI Water Service Treatment Works (15k) by 12.15pm (race starts at 9am) will be withdrawn by a Race Official.  By entering the race, all participants are agreeing to cut-off times; anyone who fails to listen to Race Official will be disqualified.

Mandatory Kit:  Due to the nature of the race and the course, there WILL be a mandatory kit list.  This will be distributed to all participants at least one week prior to race day.  A full kit check will take place on race day, this will take place at registration/pack collection.  Further spot checks will also take place close to the start line at the Newcastle Tourist Information Centre on the Main Street in Newcastle (County Down).

Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR: Course Preview...

A Map of the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR 35k course is available HERE.  A full 'run down' on the route is available below...

Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR:  Detailed course preview...

The Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race route comprises mainly of forest paths, fire roads and single track grass and granite trail, with approximately one mile on the road.  The course measures 35k and there is approximately 11,056ft (3,370m) of ascent and 11,024ft (3,370m) of descent.  The highest point will be 2,801ft and the lowest point is at Sea level.


Participants will begin their journey from the seaside Promenade close to the Tourist Information building in Newcastle (County Down) Town Centre. Competitors will make their way along Main Street and (right) into Donard Park via the promenade entrance; from Donard Park the course crosses the Glen River bridge, towards the 'Granite Trail', at approximately 2.4km (1.5 miles). 


Runners will be directed right, up the steps, climbing 450ft to the Style below the Quarry and the area known locally as 'Lindsey's Leap'. A single track grass and rock trail will take athletes further uphill to the view point adjacent to the Quarry. 


Here, those wishing to take in the scenery will get a stunning view of Newcastle Town Centre and Dundrum Bay, before the fast downhill section (on fire road) to the Glen River path. At approximately 4km (2.5 miles), marshalls will direct runners left, up the main Glen River Path to the Col between Slieve Donard and Slieve Commedagh (6.6km and 1,874ft). The race route goes over the Style (at the Col) and onto the Brandy Pad, in a North West direction for approximately 3.2km (2 miles). 


Runners will pass the spectacular 'Castles', as they travel around Slieve Commedagh towards Hare's Gap. At Hare's Gap, the first major peak awaits, Slieve Bearnagh, first passing the North Tor before reaching the summit and the 11km (7 miles) mark, at 2,301ft.  Following the steep descent off Slieve Bearnagh, runners are faced with the next challenge, the technical ascent of Slieve Meelmore. This rocky climb will require good foot work, but once the summit is reached (2,194ft) the panoramic views of the surrounding area make the effort worthwhile. Runners will cross the Style (beside the stone house) at the summit of Slieve Meelmore, turn Left and follow the Mourne Wall for approximately 0.4km before veering right and descending towards The Mourne Way path. Once the Mourne Way path is picked up (14.5km -9 miles), the course goes in a Westerly direction, towards Foffany Dam (15.3km - 9.5 miles).  On the approach to Fofanny Dam (at the Style), on the Mourne Way path, runners will turn right, leaving the path and take the Iron Bridge into the Water Service Treatment Works, where they will run alongside the dam wall and out onto Slievenaman Road. 


After the 1.6km (1 mile) road climb, the course goes left, off the road and onto the rocky trail. Runners should stay on the higher path (to the right) towards Ott Mountain, which leads to the Mourne Wall and the style between Ott and Slieve Loughshannagh (19km - 11.8 miles). 

At this point, participants will turn left and follow the grassy trail along the Mourne Wall to the summits of Slieve Loughshannagh (2,034ft) and Slieve Meelbeg (2,322ft), at 20.6km (12.8 miles).


At the summit of Slieve Meelbeg, the course continues to follow the Mourne Wall, turning right and descending off the mountain (towards Slieve Meelmore). Participants will again climb Slieve Meelmore, this time in the opposite direction. Like the ascent, the descent off Slieve Meelmore is just as tricky and extra care should be taken here.


There will be no time for recovery after the rocky, technical descent, as one of the toughest climbs of the day lies ahead, Slieve Bearnagh. Once at the summit of Slieve Bearnagh, the course will pass around the North Tor and travel downhill towards Hare's Gap (24km - 15 miles); from Hare's Gap, participants will be directed up the short but steep set of steps and onwards, along the grassy trail beside the Mourne Wall, towards Slievenaglogh and Slieve Commedagh (2,516ft). 


Once on the summit of Northern Ireland's second tallest mountain - Slieve Commedeagh, only one more peak remains, the tallest of them all, Slieve Donard (2,788ft). Participants will climb Slieve Donard on the south side of the Mourne Wall, before crossing the style at the top, taking in the views of the greater Mournes area, before descending steeply (on the Northern side of the Mourne Wall) towards the Col and Glen River Path (29.4km -18.25 miles). It's all downhill from here until the finish. 


The course will follow the Glen River Path back into Donard Forest, where the path first meets the Forest fire roads, here, participants will be directed left (32km - 19.85 miles), along the forest path towards Drumnahilly, but taking a right turn after approximately 100 metres. Runners should follow this path, downhill untill a 'T' juction, where a left turn should be taken. Shortly after the red 'iron gate', the course turns right and continues downhill, past the entrance to Greenhill YMCA premises and into Donard Forest via the road. 


A marshall will direct participants through a gate and into the football pitches at Donard Park, where the finish line will be located at 35km.