Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race 2017
Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR: Course Preview...
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.