British Champs: Donard Commedagh

British Champs: Donard Commedagh


Donard-Commedagh Horseshoe

Saturday 9th April


Start Time: 11am

Introduction to the Race
This year’s Northern Irelands round of the British Championship takes place on the iconic peaks of Donard and Commedagh. There is an established classic fixture on these hills,but as tradition dictates the organizer has tinkered with the route to add that dimension of ‘ je ne sais quoi’ to the racing experience.
Two years ago we welcomed the British Championship with the Donard Challenge. The race certainly lived up to its name that day and clag on the hill will be talked about in hushed tones for years to come. There are still reports of lost runners being found west of the Mournes muttering about how they need to find the checkpoint on the top of Donard. The organizing committee have discussed installing a hand rail around the route this year, or potentially getting it paved , but just in case those grand plans fall through we suggest everyone takes their bearings before getting started !!.


Pre-entry £12 by 26th March online. Please use the online entry system as it integrates with our results system and helps our race administration. While entries can be made on the day the cost will be £20. Fee includes light refreshments, 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. Min. age 18.




Donard Park, Newcastle, Co. Down, Northern Ireland.     Parking, toilets and showers. GR373306.



Registration, refreshments and prize giving will be in THE 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



This race starts at sea level in Donard Park and follows the forest road across Donard bridge then taking the rough cobbled path on the south side of the Glen river before turning south-east using the marked forest trails and paths to reach a small gate at the edge of the Quarry/Forest. Checkpoint 1.From the quarry, the main climb to the summit of Slieve Donard is next –almost 2000ft in 2km.Underfoot the terrain is mostly heather and 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 Checkpoint 2 (at the large summit cairn ) beside the tower at the corner of the Mourne Wall.From here the route follows the Mourne wall in a southerly direction downhill to reach a stile which straddles the Mourne Wall at the Bog of Donard . Checkpoint 3. (This is the half way point in the race!) Having crossed the stile you will pick up the Brandy pad.This track is very runnable and will take you past the western flanks of Slieve Donard and below the Castles of Commedagh were you will then meet a stepped path taking you to Checkpoint 4.From here you will immediately begin to climb Slieve Commedaghs steep grassy slopes in a Easterly direction.You should aim to cross the Mourne wall once again using the stile next to the stone tower near the summit of Slieve Commedagh as checkpoint 5 is 150m due East of the tower across the flattish summit. All the climbing is over now. The route is then downhill all the way to the finish at sea level- almost 2,200ft in 4km. First descending from the summit in a Northerly direction before swinging east over Shanslieve. The next section to Checkpoint 5 at the stile on the edge of the forest is a mixture of grass and short heather with stony patches becoming steeper with some rock when approaching the forest. Take care on the descent if conditions are misty you will need a compass bearing as the ridge is both broad and deceptive. From the stile a firebreak leads to a forest road and descends on small paths through Donard Wood to the finish in Donard Park. This section of the course from the stile at checkpoint 5 to the finish will be marked.


Note that all checkpoints must be visited in the following order: –

Start Donard Park Map ref.   373306
1 Quarry/Gate Map ref.   371292
2 Summit Cairn Slieve Donard Map ref.   358277
3 Stile/Wall – Bog of Donard Map ref.   354268
4 Cairn/Brandy Pad Map ref.   342279
5 Summit Cairn Slieve Commedagh Map ref.   346286
6 Stile/Fire Break Map ref.   363296
Finish Donard Park Map ref.   373306

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

Full body cover including hat and gloves will have to be carried no matter what the weather conditions. Map, compass, whistle and some food will also be required in the compulsory kit and all runners kit will be checked at registration before receiving your race number and spot checked before the race can start.

As this is a 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 and Troon, also Dublin/ DunLaoghaire from Holyhead. Stena, P&O and Seacat all operate services.

P&O: 0870 24 24 777 –

Stena: 08705 70 70 70 –


Ricky Cowan, ( Race Organiser ) – Please use the Contact Us form


9.00am Registration opens.
10.25am Registration closes.  ( sharp )
10.30am Race briefing.
11.00am Race starts.
1.00pm Refreshments available at Race H.Q.
3.30pm approx Prize Giving.
5.00pm Venue Closes.

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