Aaron Shimmons - New Mourne 500 Champion

In a well-planned assault on 13 July, Aaron Shimmons SMASHED the previous Mourne 500 record set by Billy Reed way back in 2011, recording a time of 12 hours and 38 minutes. All the more impressive when you consider the weight of cap-peak he carried with him for the round! Congratulations, Aaron.  Report to follow.

Brendan Murphy Canters to 500 Success

Happy to be back at Ott car park before midnight
Congratulations to Brendan Murphy, who completed the Mourne 500 on 5th July in 19 hours and 52 minutes.

His attempt started at Ott car park at 03:41 and he hauled himself round to finish in triumph at 23:33.  

A calf problem on the way up Binnian east took the wind from his sails a bit, but he kept hammering away and still managed to finish with a smile on his face.  

Challenge report from the man himself

Mourne 500 Challenge (July 5th, 2016)

Pre Challenge

I first heard about the Mourne 500 challenge in 2013 and was immediately attracted by the simplicity of climbing all of the 39 summits over 500m in the Mournes, unsupported. The seed of making an attempt was sown and I started planning for an attempt. I didn't get time to get up to the Mournes much for a while after that, but after doing the Mourne Skyline race in 2015 the idea was rekindled in my head. After the Skyline race, I dusted off my map of the Mournes and started planning a route for the Mourne 500.

I made four trips up to the Mournes in early 2016 to check out dierent parts of the route. My first trip was a complete washout and I only managed to check out some of the start/finish of the route (Butter Mountain, Carn Mountain and Ott Mountain) and a few river crossings. A clear day in the spring allowed me to cover the first section from Ott car park to Finlieve and I worked out a route to the base of Slieve Muck. My next trip up allowed me to run from Ott car park to Bloody Bridge and to check out a section taking in Slieve Loughshannagh, Doan, Ben Crom, Slieve Binnan (3 summits), Slievelamangan, Cove Mountain and Slieve Beg. One more trip covered a loop including Chimney Rock Mountain, Spences Mountain, Rocky Mountain, Crossone and Slieve Donard. So, between the Skyline race and my recces I was more or less ready for an attempt.

I contacted Rick McKee who co-ordinates the challenge and told him of my plans to attempt it. Because I hoped to use my attempt for UTMB points, I had to complete the summits in a particular order. This wasn't my original planned route, but I was happy enough that my recces would stand to me nonetheless. My plan was to attempt the challenge whenever the weather was right once I had completed the V3k race in June. I kept an eye on the weather forecast for Slieve Donard on www.mountain-forecast.com and it appeared that July 5th was the right day for an attempt. So, on July 4th I drove up to Newcastle through torrential rain, wondering how the forecast could possibly be correctly predicting dry weather the next day.

The Challenge

The alarm was set for 3am on Tuesday morning and after a quick coee, breakfast and last minute gear check, I was dropped at Ott car park by the girls and I started on my challenge at 3:41am. I started up Butter Mountain through swirling mist by the light of my head torch and found that the path up was clearer than I remembered. Quickly, I was on the summit and heading back for the road near Spelga Dam. I hit the road and headed for a footbridge below the dam. On my recce I had gone a good distance below the dam to nd a bridge but on the y I decided to go for a higher bridge crossing which was marked on the map. I followed the river bank under the light of my head torch and eventually found the bridge that I was looking for. The next step was a trudge up Slievenamiskan which is under 500m but was a good reference to navigate my way to Cock Mountain. The cloud level was very low, so I was eyeing my map and compass the whole way to Cock Mountain; I was able to turn o my head torch at this stage. I had a short segment over to Cock Mountain south and then I had to find my way over to Pigeon Mountain North.

The next section involved a boggy descent and climb and I knew that the summit was easy to find because of the Mourne wall. The path seemed very well trodden in places which helped with finding my way in the mist. From Pigeon Mountain North, I had to follow a careful compass bearing to Pigeon Mountain South and then another boggy descent to the col below Slievemoughanmore. I was going to be following the Mourne wall for a while now, apart from a detour to the summit before a very steep descent to the Windy Gap. After a brief encounter with a bog hole, I was heading up Eagle Mountain and continuing along the wall to Shanlieve. The section from Shanlieve onwards is a wide open boggy ridge and in the dense mist was a navigation challenge. I seemed to find a pretty well worn path that was heading in the right direction and it brought me most of the way to the next unnamed summit. I carefully checked my location a number of times until I was confident I had found what the challenge website calls "Highest point on plain" and then I navigated my way to Finlieve. Ten summits done and now I had a long distance to cover before to number eleven.

I took a bearing for the Red Moss river and followed this down out of the cloud and mist towards a road called the Sandy Brae. I spotted a minor short cut across the mountainside which took a few hundred metres o my planned route. I knew that my lack of local knowledge might cost me a bit here, but I opted for following road through the village of Attical for the next few kilometres when making my way to the Silent Valley. My choice of grippy trail runners meant that running on the road wasn’t very comfortable, so I opted for a mix of power walking and jogging for this section. I had a number of people offer me a lift and they were surprised that I wasn't taking up the offer. On entering the Silent Valley, I was looking for a trail that lead towards Wee Binnian and Slieve Binnian. I found a trail, took a minor detour and eventually found my way following a wall towards Wee Binnian. The cloud level was rising and I could almost see the summit of Slieve Binnian and I could see that my originally planned route wasn't going to work, so I picked my way towards Slieve Binnian East. Half way up the climb my right calf muscle developed a pain as if it was strained. I cursed my luck and for a moment thought my day was over already. For some reason, I decided that I'd continue up Slieve Binnian East and although my calf was very sore it was still working and I was able to adjust my climbing to minimize any pain. My plan was to get to the summit and take stock of it there. This was the longest climb of the day but I eventually reached the rocky summit and turned to make the next climb up Slieve Binnian itself. This climb went well and I knew I had easy ground to cover to get to Slieve Binnan North. I found that my calf was working okay on the at and downhill sections but was sore on climbs. The descent was challenging but interesting and I was on familiar ground for the next few hours. I knew that the ascent of Slievelamangan would be a make or break section for my calf muscle.

It was cloudy for this climb, so the climb felt easier that it did on my recce. I was delighted to make it to the summit and knew that the next two summits would come relatively easily. Pretty soon I had climbed Cove Mountain and took a solid break for food and refilling my water bottles before going up Slieve Beg and descending to the Brandy Pad trail. It was easy going along the Brandy Pad trail and I took straight line to Rocky mountain once it was within sight. It was a bumpy way to go but I progress was quite good. A quick stop on the top of Rocky mountain and I descended to the wall and for a path that lead half way up Spences Mountain. This was the hottest part of the day and I filled my water bottles in a mountain stream. I ploughed my way up through heavy vegetation towards Spences Mountain and hit the ridge a bit further North than planned. So, I headed back to Spences Mountain and backtracked towards the summit of Chimney Rock Mountain. The trail along Chimney Rock was very enjoyable and I took a shortcut over to the Brandy Pad before making my way up Crossone. I was happy with my progress and my calf was not getting any worse, so my spirits were lifting but I had a steep climb up Slieve Donard ahead of me.

The climb from Crossone to Slieve Donard felt relentlessly steep. I was grateful that it wasn't very sunny at the time. I enjoyed the varied nature of it, switching from grassy to rocky and back and forth. I particularly enjoyed the grippy rock sections. Reaching the summit was a change because after being on my own all day, I was suddenly on a crowded mountainside. I stopped for a good feed and some time off my feet before descending to the col below the climb to Slieve Commedagh. My descent was at a snail’s pace compared to a bunch of teenage boys who raced down. I picked my way along the Mourne wall to near the summit of Slieve Commedagh and then headed for the summit cairn. From there I followed the ridge to Shan Slieve and it took a while to be sure that I had hit the exact summit.

My original plan was to go back up Slieve Commedagh to rejoin the wall but I changed my mind and decided to contour around to the wall and avoid the climb. The contour was on ridiculously steep ground and I eventually made my way around, after an encounter with a very angry sheep at one point.  The summits of Slieve Corragh and the three summits of Slievenaglogh came easily before a descent to the Hare's Gap and the steep climb up Slieve Bearnagh. I knew that this was the toughest climb that I had left and I slowly picked my way up towards the summit. I got as close to the summit tor as I could and made my way up to the second and higher summit tor before the steepest descent of the day on my way towards Slieve Meelmore. Before the descent, I took a brief pause to enjoy some of the best views of the day off Bearnagh.

I was starting to feel like I was on the home straight and slowly picked off Slieve Meelmore, Slieve Meelbeg, and Slieve Loughshannagh. My route choice had me backtrack off Slieve Loughshannagh to head for Ben Crom in the distance. This route took me along an easy trail for a while and then I had a relentless bog trot to the base of the final climb. The sun was getting low in the sky and I pushed my pace as hard as my calf would endure to make sure that I got back to the Mourne Wall before it got dark. The summit cliffs of Ben Crom were impressive and the mountain literally falls into the Silent Valley. I'm not sure if I found an optimal route to Doan, but I crossed the bog and found a new water supply and soon I was on the trail to Doan's summit. Just near the top of Doan I suddenly had a small slab of rock to cross, it had me thinking \easy to get up, not so easy to get down" but I got up it. I went over on my ankle on the summit, no damage done, and I slowly slithered my way back down the slab and headed along a good path to the col between Slieve Loughshannagh and Carn Mountain. I was chasing day light at this stage and managed to lose the path. I also realized that my assessment of which mountain was which was wrong too. I was actually heading for the col to the East of Slieve Loughshannagh whereas I should be going for the west col, this error would have meant extra climbing so I was glad I spotted my error.

When I reached the col I knew that I had five summits to go. Carn Mountain North and Carn Mountain came quickly and this section was taking me away from the finish. The climb up Slieve Muck was long but not very steep and then I had to descend to Slieve Muck South. I started moving as quickly as my legs would allow because the light was fading seriously quickly. I reached the summit, turned around and pushed hard to get back to the summit of Slieve Muck again. I knew from there I had just over three kilometres to go to the finish. The next kilometre followed the Mourne wall and it was dark enough to need a head torch again. I moved as quickly as I could and had a few near trips and falls, but stayed on my feet. After a kilometre the wall swung right and I took a bearing from my map towards the summit of Ott Mountain. It was completely dark now so I just followed my compass bearing in a blind manner and climbed over any obstacles in my path; I did notice I was veering too far right of the bearing a few times but then stuck to the correct bearing religiously. Eventually I started climbing again and kept on the bearing until all the ground around me was downhill. I had reached the last summit and just needed to get to Ott car park. I could see the lights from the car in the car park so I headed straight in that direction and descended over a few tricky obstacles en route. Eventually, I hit the Ott track and was able to jog to the car park. The girls were there to welcome me to the finish and it was great to see the first people since the Donard col almost eight hours earlier.

Post Challenge

The Mourne 500 is a great challenge and I really enjoyed it. I think doing it alone was tougher than I had anticipated. The longest stretch that I went without seeing anyone was eight hours, but I pretty much only met a handful of people on the whole route, apart from on Donard summit and its descent.  I think I got the fuelling correct and might even have carried a little too much food in the end. I could say that my dodgy calf slowed me down a lot, but I think that going slower early on might have left me with more in reserve at the end. I reckon some local knowledge from extra recceing would have helped fine tune my route, but it worked out okay in the end. I'll definitely be back in the Mournes for some more runs soon.

UTMB Points - The Mourne 500 is a 2016 UTMB Qualifier

The Mourne 500 is once again accepted as a UTMB Qualifying Race (4 points on new scale, 2 points on old scale).  Note the Rules page for a UTMB qualifying Mourne 500. 

Content of the email from ITRA (International Trail Running Association) below.

Mourne 500 Challenge 2016 (N° ITRA : 10934-13891)

After evaluation, ITRA keeps the following values communicated on our website:

D 65,2 km / D+ 4430 m / D- 4430 m (Link TraceDeTrail)
  • Certification: Yes, ITRA commits on the values below
Method of calculation : We keep the original altitude and apply a Threshold of 3 m for the elevation corresponding to the use of a GPS devise with altimetric barometer.
  • Evaluation Criteria:
Endurance points: 4 points (new scale) - 2 points (old scale)
Mountain level:     8
Finisher level:       310

Dawson Stelfox - Dark Mourne 500, Winter Solstice 2014

Congratulations to Dawson Stelfox, who endured raging winds and complete darkness on his own, to complete the Mourne 500 in 25hrs 50 min (time TBC) on the shortest daylight day of the year, 21 December 2014.

Whilst the challenge of the Mourne 500 is not about the clock time as such, anyone out on the hills for that amount of time without support or taking shelter, particularly at this time of year, has shown quite incredible resolve.  Well done, Dawson.
A rare daylight image from Dawson's Mourne 500

Dawson's Report - The Dark 500s

I first walked round all the Mourne peaks over 500m almost 40 years ago (1500ft back then!), on a three day midsummer camping trip. Since then the mountains have been ordered, told to stand up straight and be counted and the Rules have been set down.  My interest was kindled during the development of the Rankin Round and I was keen to have a go at the 500’s this summer.

A few sporadic recce’s and then an aborted attempt in June due to poor weather were followed by torn ligaments from an old man’s stumble in the Alps in July and that seemed to rule out any prospect this year.

That didn’t, of course , prevent me from dispensing advice, most of which was wrong, to anyone who would listen, including…

(a)   Best start in late evening so as to get the bit in the dark done while still fresh.
This fails to take into account that you are starting out having already been up and about for 12 hours, and that, especially in winter, you would end  up travelling through two nights rather than just one.
(b)   Going clockwise from Ott works best with (a) as the Mourne wall handrail helps the navigation in the dark.
This doesn’t make so much difference if you are walking, but those capable are better able to take advantage of runnable sections going anti-clockwise.
(c)    A winter round shouldn’t be that much harder than summer!
This is obviously complete nonsense. Worse weather, heavier ground and, especially, the dramatic slowing of pace in the dark, all combine to make winter a much more masochistic proposition.

An uncharacteristic attention to injury recovery meant I was able to get out on the hills again by early October and interest grew in finishing the year with something challenging. Despite my bad advice Taryn and Joanne completed the first winter round in November in a remarkably fast time of 23 hours, but I wasn’t up to their pace, and so settled on a slow solo attempt on the longest night of the year.  The solstice is when the sun stands still – the turning of the year -  and the winter solstice has a particular significance in symbolising the rebirth of the year, the return of the sun and the basis of life. The hills of Ireland still hold the physical markings of that passage – marker stones and alignments abound, and there is nothing like a long journey in wild mountains through the night to remind you of your elemental needs.

I also ate a large amount of humble pie in preparation and took Taryn and Joanne’s rueful advice to start in the morning and go anti-clockwise.

So it was that at about 6.50am on the morning of Saturday 20th December I left Ott car park. Dawn broke going over Cock mountain and low winter sun accompanied me all the way down to reach  Finlieve by 10.40, where there is the first serious navigation choice. Previously I had tried the direct line approach over to the foot of Muck, but there is some pretty unpleasant ground dropping down to the Windy Gap river and then the additional climb up over the tail of the Pigeon ridge. This time I braved the Red bog – merely soggy in summer but full on calf deep water in winter, (best head to the Red Moss river as soon as possible) and down the fence line almost to Sandy Brae, before setting off cross country to the track curling through the delightful Scots pine forest at the bottom of Slievemageogh and on along the wall to the road below the south ridge of Sl Muck, stopping for lunch about 12.30.  This, to me, was the worst climb of them all – over 400m straight up the ridge, but you pick off two peaks for the price of one. The weather remained fine but there were the first hints of lowering mist and rising westerly winds, all able to be ignored once I hit the shelter of the Mourne Wall, followed it to the route crossroads at the Loughshannagh col. From there, an easy stroll to Doan, the disheartening up and down to Ben Crom by 3.00pm and then the tricky direct descent through the cliffs down to the Ben Crom dam for some welcome afternoon tea of jam sandwiches and flat Coke, around 4.00pm.

Darkness caught me at 4.30pm on the top of Binnian north but it was the rising winds that gave greater concern – there had been very strong westerly gales on Friday, but had been predicted to fall during Saturday (which they did ) and not get strong until a new front came across Sunday afternoon. However, the wind rose to gale force over the tops by early Saturday evening and became the biggest energy sapping problem of the entire journey. The mist lowered to around 500m so every summit was accompanied by the visual confusion of torchlight reflected back in your face, to the extent I had to hold my head torch low to the ground to get clear sight of the ground. I had decided to use poles, and was glad I did to keep some semblance of stability as the wind got stronger, but trying to hold two poles, a compass and a torch is almost too much for a tired brain to co-ordinate.

Binnian and back (sneaking round on the leeward side on the return) took well over two hours and it was 7.30pm before I hit the top of Lamagan. On, in thick mist and strong winds to Cove and Beg, feeling a bit wind battered by the time (8.45pm) I hit the Brandy Pad so rather than contour round to Chimney Rock I decided to head up over Donard (then down to Crossone, and round to Chimney Rock) so I could take some temporary respite behind the Wall again. This is clearly longer and involves the extra height of going up to the Donard/Commedagh col twice, but it seemed a good idea at the time. The top of Donard was a whirling maelstrom of cloud and I was glad to drop over the lee side towards Crossone, at least until I hit the awkward boulderfield on the descent.

Although it never rained the whole trip, the mist was sufficiently thick and the wind sufficiently strong to soak through most of the six layers of clothes I was by now wearing,  and stopping for anything more than a few seconds left you chilled. I got blown over twice on Chimney Rock as Saturday turned into Sunday and my pace slowed to a crawl,  but it eased as I dropped down to Spence’s and Rocky mountains and the welcome shelter of the Wall again. Commedagh was almost pleasant until the exposed summit plateau at 2.45am and the always awkward navigation down to Shanslieve – blown over again, hat whipped off in the gales and lost forever. I took a glove off to get my spare hat out of my rucksac and  the glove was also blown away, so the spare gloves had to come out as well, both reminders as to how quickly things can go badly wrong.

Getting back to the Wall down to Corragh by 3.30am was a great relief and it almost felt like the home straight until I thought about what was still left. By now I was beginning to realise that I wouldn’t make my self imposed target of 24hrs, but just getting round was always the real goal.  The wind exposed arrowhead out to Slievenaglogh north was passed by 4.30am and the Hares Gap reached by 4.45am. I hadn’t been looking forward to the slog up Bearnagh but was welcomingly sheltered and the snow patches along the wall were like morse code tickertape in the darkness extending my vision.  I crossed Bearnagh with the tors emerging ghostlike from the mist before 6am, frightened brave campers at the Bearnagh/Meelmore col, crossed Meelmore at 6.45am and emerged into a grey dawn on Slieve Loughshannagh.

I nearly forgot about little Ott mountain at the end, finally reaching the car park at 8.39 on Sunday morning, 25hrs and 49 minutes after starting out, the longest night over, the year turned.

Taryn McCoy and Joanne Curran make the first Winter Mourne 500

Congratulations to Taryn and Joanne, who completed the Mourne 500 on 23 November 2014 in a time of 22 hours and 55 minutes.  They have provided a superb report on the BARF website detailing the effort.  Note, this is the first completion of the Mourne 500 in Winter, and the added water, lower temperature and lack of daylight make this a truly commendable achievement - well done to both athletes.

Pete Grant and Phil Hodge Make the Most of Bad Weather!

Pete Grant and Phil Hodge - I'm not sure who is holding up who here!
Not content to allow those who completed on 12 July 2014 to bask in their glory, Pete Grant and Phil Hodge ROARED round the Mourne 500 challenge on 14 July 2014 in horrendous weather conditions in only 14 hours and 17 minutes.

Report and photos to follow, hopefully!

This impressive time set by Pete and Phil is the first serious contender to the whirlwind time set by current champion Billy Reed in July 2011, and is particularly worthy given the poor conditions.

Given the recent interest in the Mourne 500 as a warm-up to the Rankin Round, surely only a fool would bet on Billy staying champion for another year!  Who's next?!

An Alternative Route on 12 July!

Stevie, Dominic and Willie were joined by Mourne 500 veteran Dale Mathers (completed 14 May 2011) for an attempt at the Mourne 500 challenge on 12 July 2014, and were successful in their quest in an impressive 15 hours and 44 minutes.  Well done, guys.  This time would have surely been significantly improved if the guys were not forced to navigate carefully in the poor visibility. 

Report and photos on the way soon, hopefully! 

Greg McCann Conquers Mourne 500

Greg McCann has completed the Mourne 500 on 28 June 2014 in an impressive time of 16 hours and 24 minutes, and has written this excellent report of his day.

Greg McCann enjoying the Mourne 500 when the weather finally cleared
Mourne 500 Challenge – My Way
I first became aware of the Mourne 500 Challenge last year and I thought that is on my ‘to do list’.  So when I sat down to plan out this years running calendar I thought the Mourne 500 would be perfect training for the 80km, 5000m at the Grand Raid des Pyrenees.  I then decided on my target date the last weekend in June.

My training over the last two months has been to cover all the various sections of the course. It was my intention to run the route in an anticlockwise direction from Ott CP taking in Slievenamuck, Cock, etc, then finishing with Slieve loughshannagh and Ott Mtn.  Boy, how the best laid plans fall apart on the day of reckoning!!

I arrived at Ott CP at 5.00am and the cloud level was down to 400m, my heart sank. Going anticlockwise would involve open navigation with lots of room for error. These were zero visibility conditions!! I hadn’t planned to run the route clockwise, as I thought it would be madness to leave Finlieve/Shanlieve etc to tired legs, but navigationally it would be an easier start.

At this point Tish said, ‘why don’t you come back tomorrow’ but I just couldn’t, I was ready to go and I wanted to go now!! So I headed up Ott Mtn and then across to Slieve Loughshannagh.

In the mist and rain it was cold. The rain was dripping off me and my light orienteering top wasn’t keeping me warm. I kept saying ‘this will clear’ it shouldn’t be here, but it is so ‘sod it, so what’.

In the mist I just had to keep my head down, keep moving and take straight lines, I couldn’t cut corners which at the start frustrated me, I was thinking, ‘no, this is good, if it was warm and dry I would be going faster and maybe suffering later on’. (Ever the optimist!)

The first part of the course was ok, I had to follow the compass out and back from Slievenalogh to the summit NW of it. After Slieve Corragh I contoured out to Shanlieve. Initially, I had started out too low and had to traverse some steep rock and ground, after a few adjustments I was fine if a bit slow and hit the ridge spot on.

I met my first person on the hills coming down Donard at about 9.00am. From the top of Donard I had to go down to Crossone. I had only been up Crossone once before in good weather in the opposite direction and I didn’t like it much then. 

This time I was going down in zero vis as fast as I was brave enough to! I lost my foot down a hole twice and I sliced my hand on a rock protecting myself and to add insult to injury I got dragged off course to the south( I almost gave up at this stage!) I was only a third of the way through and I thought this is madness, go home- (30 mins and I’m home.) I said, ‘no’ this is training for something bigger, ’you big girls blouse’ and kept going. I decided that as I was heading for Chimney Rock,Spences and Rocky and I would reassess the situation at the Brandy Pad.

By the time I got to Spences Mtn, hey presto, it was a different day! All the peaks were in view with the exception of Donard. By the time I got around to the Brandy Pad I had being running(if you can call it that) for 6 hours, and there was no stopping me now.

Beg/Cove/Lamagan where fine, then I headed up Binnian for its three summits, when I got to the most easterly point I headed down to Binnian Lough and picked up a path leading down to Binnian/Lamagan col. The climb up to Ben Crom was tough but short. I was going for 9 hours now and I knew I had the back broke. Doan/Carn/Muck followed without incident but were full of magical views as l Iooked back to where I had been. The descent off Muck was steep and I arrived in time for the Mourne Rambler (bus) alas I had to wave him on! I stopped for water/food at the river beside Pigeon CP in preparation for the climb up Finlieve. I ran up the track from the CP with ease and decended into the next valley and then started the climb up to Finlieve that was a murder picture!! In my head I knew this was going to be tough and it was, it took me almost two hours to cover 6.5km from Pigeon CP to Finlieve!!

By this stage now I was heading home, but could I get home in sub 16 hours? Up until this point I had taken a photo at every summit, from Finlieve to Ott CP it was ‘sod that, lets go for it’. I pushed as best as I could, coming down Eagle, I wasn’t necessarily dancing down the steep slope, it was more like a saga convention getting out of a bus!!
I reached Spelga CP at 15.57 gutted but happy.

On my way up my 39th and final summit (Slievenamuck) I had two unexpected vistors to accompany me to the top, Áine, my daughter just home from university and Charlie(dog), my training partner, joined me for the last summit for some photos with fantastic sunset and the drop down to Ott CP, where it all began 16 hours and 24 minutes earlier in the mist and rain.

I covered 65km with 5199m in 16h 24mins.  This was a fantastic day out in the hills and I would encourage anyone to give it a go!!

BARF Double Conquers Mourne 500

Colm Kelly and Kathleen Monteverde, BARF members and now Mourne 500 veterans
Two separate attempts were mounted on the Mourne 500 on 27 July 2013, with Colm Kelly and Dave Evans having had it in the diary for some time, and separately Kathleen Monteverde seeing her chance and going for it.  An early injury to Dave Evans saw him pull out on Pigeon, with Colm and Kathleen then joining forces for the round.

Kathleen finished up in 17 hours and 14 minutes, with Colm rolling in just 5 minutes behind in 17 hours and 19 minutes.  Another blisteringly hot day at times, occasionally shrouded in fog, so congratulations go to both Kathleen and Colm for taking the sensible decision to run the attempt together after Dave's misfortune.

Dave, it's still out there for you!

Denise Mathers First Female to Conquer Mourne 500

Denise Mathers became the first lady to complete the Mourne 500, on Saturday 29 June 2013, completing the course in a very impressive 16 hrs and 45 minutes (and 10 seconds!).  She started and finished in Ott car park, and her time was close to that set by husband Dale Mathers, now a Bob Graham round veteran.

Congratulations to Denise, and this has really set the bar for the ladies.  We know of a few others who might fancy their chances, so let's see what you've got!

Adrian Tucker sets impressive time in Mourne 500

Experienced endurance athlete Adrian Tucker has become the only person so far to complete the Mourne 500 in 2013.  His time of 15 hours and 50 minutes is particularly impressive given the extremely hot conditions on 7 June, undoubtedly the hottest day of the year so far, and long into a particularly dry spell in the Mournes when mountain water was scarce.

Adrian even had time to take plenty of snaps (not the one above!), and is compiling a report of his effort, so we will put up a link when this is available.

Congratulations Adrian, and let's see who fancies a crack next!

Mourne 500 is now a qualifier race for The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc

From the organisers of The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc:

We confirm that your race will give qualifying points for 2013 registrations:

The qualifying races give points for every race of The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®, not just for the UTMB®.


Visit the website for more info on The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc www.ultratrailmb.com, and for a full list of qualifier events, go to http://ultratrailmb.com/page/87/Liste_des_courses_qualificatives.html (Select Ireland to give the full list of qualifier events on the island)

The Challenge is Set!

Fancy a tough day out in the hills?  Take on The Mourne 500. 

See if you can topple the current champion's time of 13 hours 10 minutes, set by Billy Reed on 6 July 2011.  Even if you don't manage that, you'll join the Mourne 500 Hall of Fame

Contact Us if you want to know more, or if you are ready to take on The Mourne 500 challenge.

Rules of The Mourne 500

Be sure and let us know if you are going to give it a crack! 

For a valid Mourne 500, you must:
  • Give us a heads-up in advance of your attempt
  • Visit the identified 39 points above 500m, in any order you wish 
  • Start and finish in the same place
  • Be totally unsupported (receiving NO assistance from those not doing it)
  • Be self-sufficient - carry all food/supplies - no food stash; but mountain water allowed
  • Carry wet weather gear, first aid kit, bivvy bag, torch, compass, map
  • Record the attempt on a GPS unit, and make the data available afterwards
  • Take some pictures and write a report to let us know you you got on!

The 39 Points of The Mourne 500

All 39 points (red) and route of the 1st successful Mourne 500
This route starts at Carrick Little car park
Click the map for bigger version