Donadea Forest Park is a real gem. The forest is located a short distance west of Clane, Co. Kildare in the walled demesne of the Aylmer Family (1550 to 1935). Only 40 minutes from Dublin this is a wonderful place for a stroll (or run) through deciduous woodland. There is a lake, a ruined castle and, and a coffee shop!

Donedea Running Club hosted a 10km trail race in the park on Saturday 11th October. Amongst the 250 odd competitors, some recognisable faces, Barry Minnock, Mark Scanlon, Sarah Mulligan, Pauline Curley and Sportsworld’s own Orna Dilworth (winner of the National Ultra at this venue earlier this year). The omni-present Lucy Darcy Sergeant Major’d the chip timing.

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”, the runners set off bathed in warm autumnal sunshine. The first 3km were on road along the outside of the Demesne wall, followed by two loops of undulating forest trail inside the wall. The underfoot conditions were good – for the most part loose chip trail, with some sections of fire road.
Setting off with the main group of sub-40 hopefuls I settled into a nice sharp pace. The leaders quickly separated from the rest of us and drifted away up the road. Climbing doesn’t agree with my constitution and the initial drag to the park entrance was beginning to take its toll by the time we passed through the main gate. Fortunately it didn’t get any worse inside the park. Mostly the trail section was flatish but there were two significant climbs close to the entrance to the park.

I was running in a group with Pauline Curley. For the first 4.5k she was a couple of metres behind, but then moved ahead by a couple of metres. It was tough going but I worked hard to stay within 5m of the group in order to give myself a chance to battle with them at the end. I’ve never run a 10km race before so I was not sure how much kick I had, or Pauline had, or anyone else had for that matter. That was going to be interesting to find out! On the 2nd loop the climbs occur at around the 8.5km mark. Just before the climb I put in a surge to come up to Pauline. As she climbed the first I noticed she wasn’t pushing as hard as she had on the first lap and I surprised myself by being able to keep with her. On the second climb we were side by side at the beginning of the climb, we passed some encouraging words between us, and I drove up the climb ahead of her. I had seen her kick hard at the top of the climb first time round, so this time I kicked hard, at a place I’d usually want to catch my breath, and then I really pushed the descent as I knew I was faster on the way down and I wanted to break the umbilical cord between myself and the group to give myself a comfortable margin in case one of them put in a strong finish. 600m to go – lungs bursting, legs weary – not much left in the tank – pushed hard – checked over the shoulder a couple of times – but just held out. Finished in 37:12. Not earth shattering but I was happy enough with the time – plenty of room for improvement! Pauline, finishing 3s later, told me she had done the course in 36mins last year – I wouldn’t have been able to match that. She’ll be back in form again soon I’m sure.

Male Winner: Barry Minnock 32:17 1st
Female Winner: Sarah Mulligan 34:43 7th
Male 40 Winner: Paul Mitchell 37:12 17th
Fourth Female Orna Dilworth 40:09 28th
(Full Results on

Tea and sandwiches back at the local GAA club rounded the day nicely. A well run friendly race which I would thoroughly recommend.