This new 5 mile race is coming up in Doneraile Park on Sunday the 23rd of October at 2pm.
Organised in conjunction with Awbeg Athletic Club, it has an Athletics Ireland licence.
Please note that while you may see the race described as 'The Great Doneraile Steeplechase Challenge', it is actually a 5 mile road race with optional token steeplechase jumps. You don't have to jump anything if you don't want to!
Getting there....Doneraile is centrally located in north Cork and is within easy reach of runners in Limerick, South Tipperary as well as Cork City.
If you are coming from the direction of Cork City then turn off right at New Twopothouse. If you are coming south from Limerick then take the R522 in Buttevant. If you are coming from south Tipperary then take the N73 Mallow road in Michelstown and then look for the turn off for Doneraile.
The race.....This 5 mile race has a number of unique features that set it apart from other races.
1) The setting...Doneraile Park which is an old country estate. At this time of year with the autumnal colours, it's a stunning spot to hold a race. Most of the course is within the confines of the park and is closed to traffic. It really is the jewel of North Cork and it's amazing how people don't even know about it.
2) The Steeplechase......Many people will not know that the original steeplechase actually took place in Doneraile. While the word 'steeplechase' today is associated with an olympic track event or a horse race, the very first steeplechase took place here in the 18th century......(By most accounts, the first steeplechase race was held in 1752 in County Cork, Ireland, where a horseman named O’Callaghan engaged Edmund Blake in a match race, covering approximately 4 1/2 miles from Buttevant Church to St. Mary’s Doneraile, whose tower was known as St. Leger Steeple. Indeed, church steeples were the most prominent — and tallest — landmarks on the landscape, and the sport took its name from the chase to steeple).
Drawing on that tradition, the race will start at the Roman Catholic church in the town and finish outside the St.Marys church....i.e. steeple to steeple. There will also be token steeplechase jumps at each mile marker but these are completely optional. There is no advantage to be gained by jumping them but might be used by some of the slower runners doing it for fun ;o)
Doneraile 5 mile race...from steeple to steeple3) Relay event.....might be one for beginners? Teams of 3 people can take part also. The first person runs 2 miles with the 2 others doing 1.5 miles eace. Please note that last registration is at 1:30pm. Allow time for members of the team to get to the start and changeover points.
4) Golf.........For anyone wanting to make a day of it, the local Golf Course are offering discounted green fees for the 9 hole golf course...(€10 but must be booked in advance)
5) Juvenile races...While the main race is on, there will other shorter 800m and 1 mile races for juvenile runners...U12, U14 and U16. Entry is free but must be pre-entered.
In short, there is plenty there to make it a day out for the whole family instead of just turning up at a race and rushing away again.
Entries........The entry fee is €12. Please note registrations close at 1:30pm. It is about a 600m walk to the start and so early and timely registration is critical.
Entries will be taken at Nagle Rice Secondary School which is very close to the entrance to the park. See map below. Refreshments and prizes will be here as well after the race.
The map above shows the town of Doneraile. Note the access roads. The school is on the north side of the town and is approx 600 metres from the start line.
The race starts near the Catholic church on the south side of the town...
The first few hundred metres are very fast as you run downhill through the town towards the bridge over the Awbeg River. From this low point, you run up a slight hill past the finish line near St.Mary's church which was one of the original steeples used in the first steeplechase.
From there, you turn right and into the park...
Inside the park, the route takes lots of twists and turns but there will be plenty of stewards. The race is on roads and tracks, it is not a cross country race! The route has several hills along the route but none should be too long. The finish line is just outside the park near St.Mary's Church.
Overall......Doneraile Park is really a great spot for a race in north Cork. Perhaps not the fastest of courses but with no traffic to worry about, it's an ideal spot for a race. A 5k race is held held during the summer months but the park is probably at it's most spectacular at this time of year with it's gold and red autumnal colours. Definitely not just another 5 mile race.