Dromara mountain runner and Newcastle AC athlete Zak Hanna has established himself as one of the top mountain runners in the world after securing a fine 6th place in the overall rankings in the 2019 Mountain Running World Cup.
The Mountain Running World Cup is ran over seven races across the world with races in France, Wales, Austria, USA, Switzerland, Italy and Slovenia. To secure a place in the final rankings runners had to complete four of the seven races to qualify.
Zak started his campaign with a 10th place in the Maxi Race in France (16km, 1200m climb) before making the short trip to Wales for the Snowdon International Race, which is 16km up and down one of the highest mountains in the British Isles. Here Zak finished fourth which moved him inside the top 10 for the first time.
This was followed by a fine 7th place in the Drei Zinnen Alpine run in the Italian Dolomites, which was 17km uphill only with 1300m of elevation gain finishing at an altitude of 2600m above sea level.
The final round of the World Cup was held in Slovenia at the famous Smarna Gora race where Zak rounded off the campaign with a 9th place to secure his 6th place in the overall standings, Ireland’s highest ever finish in a male World Cup series.
As well as competing in the World Cup Zak captained the Irish team at this year’s European Mountain Running Championships in Zermatt, Switzerland where he finished 19th in a world class field, his second year in a row finishing top 20 in Europe. The race finished at the foot of the famous Matterhorn mountain.
Closer to home he was a winner by 4 minutes in the Mamores Vertical Kilometre race in the Scottish Highlands, a short but brutal race over 5km with 1000m of elevation gain in such a short distance.
In 2017 he won the Slieve Donard race one year after taking up running.
Away from the mountains and onto the mud Zak is also the current Irish Novice Cross Country Champion, as well as the Ulster Intermediate Cross Country Champion, and a 4 time winner of the Mill Hill Mile race in Castlewellan where this year he set the 2nd fastest time ever for the race.
Zak has just recently returned from Argentina where he represented Ireland in the World Mountain Running Championships where he was 35th, and shortly after returning home he was in Dublin with Newcastle AC to run in the Irish Senior Cross Country Championships.
Looking to 2020 Zak is aiming to compete again in the World Cup series as well as targeting the major European and World Championships, and hopefully climb up the ladder more in the World Mountain Running scene.
He has also recently been selected to represent Northern Ireland in the British Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships in Stirling, Scotland in January.
Recently Zak was presented with a cheque from Vaughan Byrne and Eddie Doyle of Dromara community association in recognition of his achievements to date.