Run Forest Run trail race report. Loved it!

My first trail race with two of my kids on some of the best bits of the Wild Atlantic Way

As you may have read in my previous post, I’ve been dipping my toe into running off-road. The phrase “trail running” still seems pretty rare in Ireland where I see “mountain running” mentioned more often, and “fell running” in the UK.

Last week my wife spotted on the Running in Cork blog that there was a trail run on in Castlefreke/Rathbarry on Sunday 18th called Run Forest Run. It instantly got me interested as it was [a] nearby and [b] only 5 miles long. I have just spent 11 days sick on and off after a trip to Vietnam. Top tip - don’t brush your teeth with the tap-water, even in a high-end hotel. I’m doing the Berlin Marathon next Sunday, so the big question I wanted to answer yesterday was “am I well enough for Berlin yet?”.

For the laugh I asked my 14yo and the 17yo sons if they wanted to do it with me. I was shocked when they both said yes. Their mother then added the sweetener of €20 for the winner between the three of us. Neither of them have done much more than a bit of running in school, so I was very impressed by their enthusiasm.

You can see the Strava route and Ordnance Survey map below. A lovely mix of path, trail, road, forest and beach in a beautiful part of West Cork.



Unfortunately, Sunday morning welcomed us with lashing rain. But what the hell, in for a penny, in for €20. The start/finish was the Galleyflash Rowing Club on Kilkern lake. A few people were there when we arrived and sadly the numbers didn’t really grow. In the end, they dropped the 5km and only 19 of us lined out for the 5 miler. I figure there were three reasons for turnout: [1] the rotten weather [2] the Charleville Half Marathon with nearly 1000 people was on the same day and [3] the lack of much publicity for it.


But we didn’t mind in the slightest.


Off we went and we quickly ended up at the back of the field. But the two boys looked solid and we were doing a decent pace for n00bs. They slowed down a bit going into Castlefreke Woods and then grinded to a slow walk going up the first hill in the woods.


We picked the pace back-up and did the road stretch quickly. Then on to the nasty-assed hill up to the large cross.


The boys were struggling with tiredness and calf pain and they claimed to have found god at this point ;-)


The downhill was brilliant fun and we ran the whole thing. Here’s a video which gives some sense of the fantastic location and views. Apologies for the relentless heavy breathing.

The final mile on the beach was brilliantly horrific with huge patches of soft sand you couldn’t avoid. Then back on to the road for a bit and to the Rowing club. The 14yo came in first of us, having found a great second wind. The 17yo hurt his achilles on the beach and came in last. But I was incredibly proud of them both. 8.4km is no joke off-road in the lashing rain when you have done no training for it.

Tea and biccies sorted us out before we drove home.

I really want to thank the organisers and helpers for a superb event. Everything was absolutely top notch from the signage to the stewards. I’d particularly call out the young guy at the end of the beach who had to stand there watching 3 slowly moving bodies in the rain for an interminable duration so he could tell us where to go.

I’ll be making lots of noise about this event next year to try and drive up the numbers. Honestly, even if you’ve never run before, you’ll love this route and the terrain.

The IMRA also did an event here in February. I’m aiming to do that if it’s on next year.

If you know of any other trail events like this in West Cork, do let me know!

Oh and yes, I think I’ll be fine for Berlin.

Update 1: There is now a Running in Cork post about it and a gallery of pics on Facebook.

Conor O'Neill

Tech guy who likes running slowly

Bandon, Cork, Ireland