Conquering Annagh Hill: A Gruelling Triumph in the IMRA Spring League 2024

April 09, 2024

The IMRA Annagh Hill race marked the conclusion of the Leinster Spring League 2024, leaving runners with a challenging yet unforgettable experience. As Race Director Mick Hanney shared with Run Republic, Annagh Hill stood as the seventh and final race of the league, renowned for its toughness with an impressive difficulty rating of 8 out of 10. Spanning a distance of 10.7 kilometres, this race isn't the longest, but with over 550 meters of ascent on steep terrain, it proves to be a formidable test for any runner.

This year's race, the 10th iteration of the event on Annagh Hill, saw 98 resilient runners venture to the old Wicklow gap on the Wicklow-Wexford border. The Gap pub played the role of warm and welcoming hosts, hosting registration and offering post-race refreshments of soup, sandwiches, and lively conversations.

Despite the challenges posed by Storm Kathleen just the day before, race day on Sunday, the 7th, brought improved conditions. While a blustery wind persisted, patches of blue sky and occasional sunshine greeted the participants. A pre-race shower added to the drama, yet the event unfolded under generally dry weather.

Enda Cloake emerged as the standout performer, leading the race from start to finish and claiming his 2nd Annagh Hill victory. His remarkable time of 57 minutes and 40 seconds was the only sub-hour timing, underscoring the race's demanding nature. Ben Mangan secured the 2nd position, marking his second consecutive 2nd place finish on the Hill, while Mark McAdden clinched 3rd place.

In the overall Spring League standings, Enda Cloake and Ben Mangan stood out as the top performers, securing 1st and 2nd place, respectively. On the women's side, Caroline Harney claimed the 1st place spot, marking her second triumph on Annagh Hill. Her impressive time of 1 hour, 15 minutes, and 35 seconds placed her 18th overall. Clodagh Mangan secured 2nd place among the ladies, with Anna Cronin closely following in 3rd.

The final Spring League standings showcased Anna Cronin's consistent excellence, securing her the 1st position, followed by Rebecca Carolan in 2nd and Roisin McDonnell in 3rd. Notably, Bernard Fortune earned a special mention as the 1st M50 finisher, having participated in all 10 Annagh Hill races, a testament to his enduring passion for the sport.

At the finish line, a mix of relief and admiration filled the air as runners completed the grueling course. Their praises for the route echoed its reputation, confirming that Annagh Hill truly lived up to its billing as a challenging yet immensely rewarding race.

Featured Image: by Andrew Hanney.

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