Donard Challenge report

Categories: Mountain Running News

Mist, Sweat and Tears in Donard Fog Fest!


The now annual Eryri pilgrimage over to Northern Ireland for the first race of the British fell champs took place on Saturday. Once again the good people of NIMRA created a new route for us, once again coined as ‘good running with no real navigation challenges’. As the 25 or so Eryri runners and other 250 odd prepared for the start, conditions looked worrying. The near-visibility-less Haar smothered the hills down to an elevation of some 150 meters, though this didn’t seem to worry many of the ‘experienced navigators’ ready to race.

After a good and fast first 2 miles, the first bit of climbing began to the summit of Millstone, so far so good. Now running in Haar with visibility of less than 5 foot the situation changed and carnage ensued. Figures were scattered all over the hill, a quick check at some runners Strava route proves this. For those who either fluked it or navigated well, the summit of Donard approached followed by a return aiming for a bearing of 46 degrees. The variety in navigating skill was slightly in evident as the finishing order resembled that only found in fell running. It was left to Londonderry journeyman Alan Bogle to take a famous win on home turf (well, Northern Ireland that is) in a time of 65.25. Soon home in 66.30 and 8th was Math Roberts, whom navigated NNW off the summit and met with wrist-breaking clubmate Trefor Jones some way off route! Next was Rich Roberts in 42nd in 80.44 followed by Crewe’s Martin Cliffe in 54th and 83.59. It was a champagne moment for Jackie Lee who won the ladies by finishing just behind Martin in 56th and  84.14. Paul Jenkinson, now fully recovered ran well to finish on a suited route for him in 88th and 92.22. Seasoned Army navigator Arwel Lewis – suffering from a mouth abscess was next in 92nd and 93.08 with Llanberis’ Jenny Heming running excellently to finish 10th lady and 98th overall in 94.20. Top performance considering the journey time over. Wendy Trimble was next in 106th in 95.42 – more importantly sealing a big team win for Eryri ladies. Johnny Moore and Dylan Wynne Jones ( a big fan of the Northern Irish races) finished in tow in 108th and 109th in a time of 96.05. Becki Law and Helen Teasedale were next home in 143rd and 148th and 1.40.07 and 1.41.01 respectively. Adrian Williams, John Rowley and Matt Fortes all ran brilliant races whilst also running a good mile and 1000ft more climbing than most, finishing in 156th, 157th and 159th respectively. Abererch’s Iwan Edgar thoroughly enjoyed the trip, finishing in 169th in 1.45. Tina McDonnell, Sandra Rowlands and Michelle Fildes ran most of the route together and finished in 200th, 201st and 202nd – Tina opening a gap on the rapid run in. Jo Moore, David Kirkby and the evergreen Maggie Oliver were next in 207th,  210th and 212th. This all left a slight feeling of deja-vu as one Eryri remained on the hill – somewhere. Following last years hefty bill for the Mourne Mountain rescue team, thankfully Dils Rowlands had invested heavily in some navigation training. This clearly paid off as Dils managed to navigate himself in a perfect NE line off the summit and home – greatly assisting with a first fell race Keswick runner who was completely lost. Somehow Dils finished in 227th in 2hrs 19mins and 55secs. There were 236 finishers.

Once again a cracking race with some strange results:

and photos;

To close, it was evident from the numbers and standard of the field that the British champs are as popular as ever and that the Gonzo’s who make the decisions need to change it back to a 6 race series.

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