Race reporter Naoise Waldron

The Wicklow Hospice 5k, 10k and Half Marathon took place on Saturday in the stunning Avondale Forest Park in Rathdrum, Co Wicklow, as a fundraiser for the Wicklow Hospice Foundation.  Avondale Forest Park is the birthplace of both Irish forestry in the 1770s and Charles Stewart Parnell in 1846, and this was the first time for me to pay it a visit.

My colleagues Aoife and Carmel had both run in the various events previously, and were making the journey back down again for the 10k, as they had really enjoyed the run the previous year. When myself and my husband found that we would be going to Wexford on the same day, we decided to head off a bit early to participate in the 10k as well, which was to be a  mix of trail and road in Avondale Forest Park and Rathdrum itself. 

We arrived in time to collect our race numbers and do a very quick warm up and have a quick chat with my colleagues who described the course as hilly but lovely. All 3 races had different starting points so I only saw clubmate Louise Jackman in passing before the start and then as she was finishing the half later on. The event was not chip timed but instead the old school method of race starter phoning the clock starter ensued, much to our collective amusement. 10 second countdown and then we were off (see Denis McCaul’s Dunboyne race report for further explanation (http://sportsworldrun.wpengine.com/news/bhaa-dunboyne-5-mile-2017/)

We started with a short down hill and then we were up and on to the trails, past Avondale House to do a loop of the grounds and then we headed out of the park, and on to road to Rathdrum. I had been advised that there would be 3 miles of uphill and the course did not disappoint! I love the challenge of the hills and for the most part there was a bit of a break in between them, but there was one particular stretch when we turned left at Avon Motors to head towards Avoca, when the hills went on for 2km in to the wind…this was mentally tough but I just visualised Emily standing at the top shouting at me to keep going and before I knew it, the climb was over! 

As I approached the finish line, there were shouts for the race director that I was 1st female and to make sure I told the race timer as I crossed the line!! I was really happy with my run, which I had just treated as a good hard training run rather than a race, and the win was a bonus. There was great atmosphere at the end, where the 5k and 10k finishers were gathering. There was a fantastic spread of biscuits, cake and freshly made sandwiches whilst we waited for the prize giving. I was honoured to be presented with my winners plate and prize by Wicklow Hospice Patron Fionnuala McCormack. The men’s 10k winner was local running legend Mick Byrne in a spectacular time of 35 mins on a tough course. 

Huge kudos has to go to Louise for doing the half marathon which would have taken is most of the hills twice…not a bother to her though after the Art O’Neill Challenge!

The event itself raised €11,000 for the Wicklow Hospice Foundation who have been working tirelessly for the past 10 years to provide a hospice and palliative care services for the people of Wicklow. The hospice build itself is due to be completed this year. They are hosting a 4 day festival of running in June – more info can be found here: