Sam amd Geoff Hamilton @ Kildare Half Marathon, Donadea Forest Park

Sam amd Geoff Hamilton @ Kildare Half Marathon, Donadea Forest Park

By Sam Hamilton

It was 13th January, World Half Marathon Day. 13.1 miles on the 13th of the first, starting at 13.10.

Sure, why wouldn’t you?

Well…it’s the middle of January for one! I still haven’t shifted the festive pounds for two! I could go on, but the truth is, Geoff was doing it anyway as part of his training for Donadea 50k so I figured  that I might as well go too.

Since DCM 2017, the furthest I had run in one go was 10 miles, and I had only done that once. So  I was not expecting much from this race at all. I have just started the training for the Stirling marathon in April and my plan had me doing 12 miles this weekend, so surely one more mile (1.1 actually!) would be doable.

It was a cold morning, but thankfully it was dry and it was not too early a start.

We arrived about 11.30am and collected our race numbers from the small table set up near the quaintest coffee shop I have ever seen. It’s a lovely wooden hut on the edge of the forest with a very eclectic mix of tables and chairs arranged around a fire pit which was burning away keeping us all warm. There were only about 200 people taking part in the race and since the fire was so welcoming, most of us gravitated towards it. This made for a very sociable start to the event with strangers talking to other strangers, united by the cold and the madness that is running. It was here that we bumped into fellow Dunboyners Deirdre Fitzsimons and Antoinette Brannigan with her brother Gary.

The start was a kilometer or so from this point, so we all made or way towards it for our 13.10 start time.

The path was a narrow forest trail, so the start was fairly slow, but we soon spread out. Conditions were favourable with the trees providing some much needed shelter from the cold breeze and the path not too muddy given the recent weather. The course was 4 undulating 5k laps plus an extra bit at the start to make up the distance. The first lap was ok. With fresh legs I didn’t notice the hills  too much. By the 4th lap however these small hills began to feel like mountains!

After the first lap, I realized that there were was a small group of us that had fallen into step with one another and as we proceeded to be lapped by the leaders, we soon began to support one another and encourage each other round the 3 remaining laps.

It is a beautiful course. Very picturesque, running by a lovely pond and a 9/11 memorial as well as the quaint coffee shop with the fire pit. The finish was at the coffee shop and what a welcome and warm sight it was. Despite the cold weather, quite a few people had come to cheer us home and this to me sums up what a friendly run this was.

Geoff came home in 1:44 and me in 2:06. No PBs but both delighted with how we felt and I know I was ecstatic just to complete 13.1miles in mid January.

If anyone is interested in having something to train for over the festive period, I would definitely recommend this run. It is small, friendly, picturesque and open to all abilities. It is also not too far away either. Just a 30 minute drive.

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