Donard Challenge – Course Preview
Here is a handy course preview from the last event in 2014.
This morning five hardy, or is that foolhardy, men met in the lashing rain in Donard Park to embark on a recce of the Donard Challenge route. We heard tales of people being lashed off the hill yesterday by the wind and truth be told, it did not look great; however the Irish weather is a funny thing and we ended up enjoying a couple of hours of sunshine, albeit it was a tad damp underfoot – as in – I have never seen the hills so wet. What follows is a brief guide to the race course.
The start is a fast dash around the football pitch in Donard Park and onto the road heading for the first bridge.
At the first bridge you make your way up a short cobbled path before making your way onto an undulating forest path heading towards the first checkpoint.
As you get closer to the first checkpoint the path starts to ramp up.
Generally the path looks less like a river.
Checkpoint 1 is at 300m.
There is a track here which leads you all the way up to the top of Millstone and checkpoint 2 at 450m.
There is a flat section off Millstone summit over to the lower slopes of Donard.
If you get the right line you should hit a track which goes most of the way to the summit and checkpoint 3 at 850m.
I took a picture of a view from the summit so you know what it looks like, just in case the cloud is down on race day.
After the second cairn you reverse on yourself to the first cairn. The descent is now yours for the taking. It starts with a technical section through a band of rocks. This is followed by some good old peaty fell running. If you look at the descent you should see tracks near a stone patch on the top left of the photo. This is what you should be aiming for.
Once on these tracks you should be able to pick a route down to the river.
This eventually takes you to the top of the second quarry. Be careful here. This will be taped on race day, but make sure you skirt to the left as there is a big drop here.
The route finishes with a fast blast down through the trees. This secion will be well marked on race day.