Saturday 8th April, 12 noon.
The Donard Challenge
AS, 10Km, 900m. NS, ER, PM, LK.
On the 29th of March 2014 two hundred and fifty men and women, young and old, set off into the mist on a date with destiny. The clag on the hill that day was so dominant it had already claimed an entire mountain range. How could mere mortals armed only with beanie hats and mars bars defeat it’s might?
The answer came screaming in the wind from villages for miles around as locals, and visitors a like, lost their battle with direction ending up as vest clad oddities in front gardens across the Kingdom of Mourne.
Fast forward three years later and Jon Krakauer is still writing a book about the incident. Before it is published we are going to give the fell running nation one last chance to rewrite history. To that end we invite you to take on the Donard Challenge one more time. Dare you return in 2017?
ENTRIES. Enter at on our ONLINE ENTRY SYSTEM. £12.00 per-entry by 26th March, a list of race entries will be published on the NIMRA web site. Fee includes light refreshment, showers, car parking, use of Sportident (Si) race management/results system. All Si cards are provided and pre-logged onto the system; no personal Si cards can be used. Substitutions are not allowed.
No entries on the day.
VENUE Donard Park, Newcastle, Co. Down, Northern Ireland. Parking, toilets and showers. GR373306.
Registration, refreshments and prize giving will be at Race HQ in Newcastle Baptist Church Hall, 17,Bryansford Road Newcastle BT33 0HJ (as for last years championship race) which is 400m from Donard Park.
There are plenty of B&Bs, guesthouses and self-catering cottages in the area with Newcastle the main centre. Newcastle has a Youth Hostel and there is a well-appointed campsite at Tollymore Forest Park. Meelmore Lodge on the north side of the Mournes (GR305307) has a basic campsite, showers and a café. Other accommodation details are available from Tourist Information offices.
Newcastle Tourist Office, Central Promenade, Newcastle Co. Down, BT33 0AA. 028 4372 2222
Tollymore Campsite 028 4372 2428
Meelmore Lodge 028 4372 6657
Newcastle YH 028 4372 2133
Start:Donard Park,GR337330 (marked to CP1)
CP1: Quarry/wall (Drinneevar) 300m, GR376287.
CP2: Millstone Mountain summit 460m, GR373285.
CP3: Slieve Donard summit 850m, GR358277.
CP4: Quarry/gate, GR371293.
Finish: Donard Park, GR373306.
All checkpoints must be visited in order.
This course was designed to provide a testing short mountain race specifically for the British Championship Series starting and finishing in Donard Park, Newcastle, Co. Down. At 10 km with 900m of climbing taking in Millstone Mountain before climbing to the summit of Slieve Donard 850m (the highest mountain in Northern Ireland) then descending all the way to the finish in Donard Park at sea level. This should make your journey well worthwhile and satisfy the most discerning fell runner.
The race starts at sea level in Donard Park and follows the forest road across the Donard Bridge then taking the rough cobbled path on the south side of the Glen River before turning south-east using the forest paths to reach CP1: Quarry/wall (Drinneevar). Ascend on rough steep ground to reach CP2, Millstone Mountain summit. After making a short descent of Millstone you then make the main climb to the summit of Slieve Donard. Underfoot the ground is mostly heather turning to grass with patches of boulders as it steepens towards the summit. You will first see the lesser cairn, which is 250m before, and 30m below CP3 (at the large summit cairn), beside the tower at the corner of the Mourne Wall.
From here the route is downhill all the way to the finish at sea level, the section to CP4 to the small gate at the edge of the quarry/forest is a mixture of boulders, heather and grass with stony patches becoming steeper with some rock when approaching the forest/quarry. Take care on descent; if conditions are misty you will need a compass bearing, as the ridge is both broad and deceptive.
From here take small marked paths through Donard Wood on the south side of Glen River into Donard Park and finish.
Sections of the race course from the start to Checkpoint 1 and from Checkpoint 4 to the finish will be marked. Maps covering the area of the race route are the Mourne Country Outdoor Pursuits Map (LPS) and the Harvey Mourne Mountains map 1:25,000.
As this race is ascending to 850m in early April, Full body cover including hat and gloves will have to be carried no matter what the weather conditions. Map, compass and whistle will also be required in the compulsory kit and all runners will be checked at registration and spot checked before the race can start.
As this is a short and challenging race you must be prepared for all eventualities; especially if the weather is bad as your navigation will be tested. If you do have to pull out tell a marshal and when you get back to Donard Park tell us again so that we know you are safely off the hills. For those who plan to carry a mobile phone the emergency contact number on the day will be 07803136002.
By air you can travel to Belfast City and Belfast International airports. Easy jet to Belfast International airport, BMI to Belfast City.
You can travel to Belfast and Larne by ferry from Cairnryan also Dublin/ Dun Laoghaire from Holyhead. Stena, P&O operate services.
P&O: 0870 24 24 777 www.poirishsea.com
Stena: 08705 70 70 70 www.stenaline.co.uk