Two local runners from Jog Moira Running Club, Wilson McAlister from Ballinderry Upper near Moira, and Nicola McIntyre, recently completed the mammoth challenge of completing the ‘‘Mourne Triple Crown.’’
Wilson explains to the Ulster Star: ‘‘The Mourne Triple Crown is the brainchild of outdoor enthusiast Robbie Marsh of Mourne Mountain Adventures.
‘‘As you might imagine, there are three mountain-based challenges – ‘The SevenSevens”, which involves visiting all the Mourne Mountains over or close to 700m high; “The Mourne Wall” which follows the famous Mourne Wall route over 14 summits; and finally the “Trail Marathon” which is a longer tour of more runnable trails but still with over 8,000ft of elevation.
“Starting at Carricklittle, we had very warm and clear days for all our three attempts, although this helped us to navigate more easily, which is most important on the SevenSevens where there is no set route between the peaks - the heat was a factor especially on the Wall route where access to fresh water was so scarce that we considered abandoning at one point!
‘‘Luckily, Nicola and I had practiced most aspects of the courses and knew where backup water could be found and we finished safely - although completely exhausted each time.
‘‘We are similar in running ability, which helped enormously as we were able to support each other with the navigation and pacing on the day as well as experience of terrain and route gained during preparation runs.’’
Wilson laughs: ‘‘All done it was an amazing challenge to be part of, most of which I’ve recovered from now, and erased the low points from my memory – so I will soon be ready to maybe tackle the Trail Marathon again on a cooler day!’’
And Wilson, who has been with Jog Moira Running Club since its inception back in 2015, explains the club was initially ‘‘just an idea formed out of a ‘Couch-to-5K’ that was being run in Moira village back then.’’
Incredibly, the running club turned from this to a huge success: ‘‘The club took off from there and now we have close to 150 members,’’ Wilson explains.
‘‘We now have a very broad range of runners, keen to share their passion whilst retaining our fun ethos.
‘‘Lockdown meant no club sessions, we were unable to train formally together, and with the cancellation of so many races and events many runners struggled to keep the running passion alive.
‘‘But the club provided its own challenges for members that could be completed in line with Covid rules at the time – the Townland World Cup and Towpath Challenge being notable incentives to keep everyone training through the absence of club sessions.’’
Wilson adds: ‘Like other clubs, we have been slowly getting back to the new normal over the past while, and even has a C25K in mid-August and reopened membership again.’’
Being a part of Jog Moira Running Club has put Wilson and so many others, in touch with like-minded people, with a shared passion for running.
‘‘Being part of Jog Moira Running Club has brought me so many opportunities,’’ Wilson explains.
‘‘I have been able to train as a running coach and leader, to meet so many like-minded people and share in their enthusiasm for running and of course to experience running in so many beautiful locations around the country.’’