As the curtain came down on the cross-country season recently, it capped off a memorable few months for the McDonald family on the athletics front.
The McDonald family who hail from Ballyroan are probably best known for Irish Fittest Family runners up in 2019.
But this season, they have put in stellar performances right across the board with wins for Dad Martin, Cian, Niamh and more recently Kate.
Kate McDonald recently took time from her busy schedule to reflect on the hugely successful season the McDonald family have achieved.
Martin McDonald kicked off the road to success for the family with a thrilling win at the M65 World Mountain running Championship last September which was later recognised by a civic reception by Laois County Council.
Kate’s brother Cian then got in the act adding to Martin’s gold medal by winning the Leinster U-23 Cross Country in November.
He wasn’t finished there adding to his title by picking up gold at the TUS Midlands 3000m indoor race in February, representing his college, SETU Waterford, with Kate’s sister Niamh also being part on the Ballyroan-Abbeyleix & District AC team that came 2nd in the season closing event.
Reflecting on her families’ successes, Kate told LaoisToday: “Martin, my dad, won the M65 World Mountain running Championship last September – an achievement we, as a family and club, will cherish forever.
“The race took place in Ireland for the first time which was ideal as my mother, Catherine, Cian (my brother) and myself could support dad on the day.
“Laois County Council recognised this achievement with a civic reception in December, which was a lovely night.
“Dad also represented Ireland again in the International Home Countries Cross Country in November, this was his 18th time to represent Ireland in this event.
“My brother Cian won the TUS Midlands 3000m indoor race in February, representing his college, SETU Waterford. Cian was also a member of the club team in the Laois Senior cross country who claimed silver on the day.
“My sister Niamh is currently studying at Cardiff University and representing them in competition. Niamh also travelled home for the Laois Senior cross country, to help the team to silver on the day.”
Kate herself had a remarkable season with multiple wins along the way but a second-place finish was the highlight of her career to date.
She said: “The cross-country season is quite long, it begins in early autumn and ends early spring for me, it began with an open race in Moyne, county Tipperary in September last.
“This was followed by another open cross country hosted by St. Senan’s, Kilmacow a few weeks later. I was happy enough to win both of these races.
“I raced the National Novice in December in Conna, county Cork. I was delighted to finish 2nd place overall that day. Fiona Everard from Bandon A.C. won the race.
“That, to me, was my greatest achievement in running to date, let alone the cross-country season. I had been nursing a knee injury in the weeks leading up to the race but thankfully I had felt no pain on the day.
“I remember the support I got from family, friends, coaches, Laois people and anyone who knew me. The cheering and advice from the side-lines helped me to get the best out of myself on the day. The atmosphere was incredible.
“Later in December I raced the county senior, taking third position on the day. In February I competed in the National Intermediate Cross Country in Gowran. I took home silver that day.
“Finally, I finished off the cross-country season with gold in the annual and established Ras na hEireann in county Louth. The Ballyroan/Abbeyleix and District men’s team won gold on the day also.”
After the more than successful season for Kate, she was content on how it went and is looking towards the upcoming season.
“I am delighted with how the season went and more importantly, I feel there is more to come. I am hungry for more.
“I have been involved in running and competing since I was about seven years of age, but it has only been the last few years that I have begun to take it a bit more seriously.
I am really enjoying the consistency and effort and watching my body adapt to the training.
“My goals for the rest of the year are to continue to enjoy running and hopefully continue to improve all the while. As with most club runners, I am not professional. I work hard to find a balance between work, training and rest.
“Once I find a balance, I am happy. In the coming months, I hope to compete in a number of track meets. I’ll also target some 5k and 10k road races.”