Despite its close proximity to mainland UK, Ireland is one of those countries that Brits all too often overlook in favour of more ‘continental’ or exotic holiday destinations. But the Emerald Isle has much to offer and plenty that will satisfy a runner’s wanderlust.
Running is big business in Ireland, with some 9% of the population saying they take part in the activity – so no surprise there is a thriving race scene. Events such as the Dublin and Belfast Marathons attract runners in their thousands, but there are hundreds of other events throughout the country that have their own unique selling points, and more than a few are worth travelling for.
The Cork City Marathon bills itself as ‘The Marathon For Everyone’ and with flights to Ireland’s third largest city easy to come by from the UK, it’s a great choice for an early summer getaway. The best way to experience this hilly southern seaport is apparently on foot, so running a marathon looks like a great way to combine sightseeing with your passion!
It’s dramatic scenery that is on offer at the Connemara International Marathon. Sign up to this race and you will get to enjoy some of Ireland’s most beautiful scenery as you meander through bogs, hills, lakes, and the Twelve Pins mountain. Organisers say: ”No other sporting event gives people such a taste of Ireland and its highlights.” Why not see for yourself?
There is however steep competition for the ‘most scenic’ race in Ireland, a strong claimant is the Dingle Marathon well known for its beautiful course. This unique run travels around the spectacular Dingle peninsula passing beautiful scenery, idyllic villages and historical sites. And there’s more scenery on offer at The Bay Run, the slogan, ‘Don’t Let The Scenery Stop You’ should be a clue to the course’s credentials. With a half marathon and 10K distance to choose from runners are spoiled at this bay view route from Glengarriff to Bantry.
If you’ve got the legs for it and a taste for distance running then another race worth travelling for is the Forest Marathon. Located in Portumna, a small town in the heart of rural Galway, the Portumna Forest Park is home to a host of animals including fallow deer and the red squirrel. Every June, the agility of the wild animals in their natural habitat is mimicked by the ‘best of the best’ of distance runners. In recent years participants have come from all over the world in their quest to find the ultimate Ultra marathon.
From ultra distances to something the whole family can enjoy, the SPAR Great Ireland Run 10K and the SPAR Junior and Mini Great Ireland Run take place every year in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. Thousands of runners, of all ages and abilities, head to Dublin’s biggest enclosed park for a day of running. If you want to combine a springtime family trip with a challenge for all ages thrown in, then this is the one for you.
The Irish are well known for their sense of humour and the Mooathon/Donegal Marathon demonstrates that. Here’s a look at some of the race day rules:
• All entrants MUST wear black and white clothing on race day.
• Other acceptable apparel includes horns, bells, black and white body paint and cow suits of any colour. Mooooo!
Despite the frivolity of the dress code, the Mooathon is serious in its organisation and sees runners return year on year thanks to the hilly but gorgeous coastal route and the variety of distances on offer.
With so many races to choose from and so much scenery to inspire runners of all abilities, why not make 2017 your year for checking in for some Irish charm?