28 November, 20092001 Irish Championship
Croagh Patrick- Report by Douglas Barry
John Lenihan won the Croagh Patrick race in a veteran's record time of 44 minutes and 33 seconds. He was helped by two factors. It was the coolest race for some time as the cloud base was down to 1,300 feet, and the race was graced by presence of his former great rival on the Irish team Robin Bryson.
Lenihan needed the win to add to his wins on Carrauntoohil and the Ballyhouras and put the Irish championship out of reach of the other aspirants. The unexpected presence of Bryson who has turned to bicycle racing with great effect for the last couple of years was a sudden shadow on the light of his ambition to win his ninth Irish title.
With the new summit only King of Mountains category thrown in on each of the Irish championship rounds, it was an extremely fast climb. The Belfast based Bryson charged off closely pursued by the rest of the 40 strong field. Entering the cloud on the upper reaches of the Reek, Robin still led the field and at the summit turn was 20 seconds clear of the Kerryman and Simon Fairmaner.
However, the descent proved to be a bridge too far for Robin, as with no mountain races under his belt this year, his descending skills were not honed to the same extent as John's. The Riocht runner who holds the record on this race, and knows the route well, took him on the tricky upper section. Later, Simon Fairmaner came through to take second and add to his brace of runner up positions on Carrauntoohil and the Ballyhouras.
This perfomance by Simon seems to have sealed his second place in the Irish championships, although if Robin takes in and wins the next two rounds on Aughavannah and Mullacleevaun, he could pip him by a point. John's time was his fastest for three years and took three minutes off Martin McDonald's 1997 veteran record. Another vet, Majella Diskin won the women's race in 65 minutes 25 seconds well ahead of Roisin McDonnell with Jane Watt third and first Over 50. The Men's Over 50s was won by Henny Brandsma