Lace up this winter
The Dublin Marathon may have been the marquee date in the Irish running calendar, but there is a huge range of events around the country to tempt seasoned runners and those keen to enter their first race.
Whether it’s trail running over the Wicklow mountains, experiencing a night run in the heart of the capital or tackling a full marathon in West Cork, there’s something for all abilities in the run up to Christmas.
Westport Sea 2 Summit Adventure Race, November 7
Experience a Croagh Patrick pilgrimage like no other: run, hike and cycle around and up the holy mountain. Take the opportunity to absorb the splendour of the island-dotted Clew Bay and the distant Mayo Mountains. Race distances of 30km to 56km include runs on the flat, up a steep slope and along the strand. Ease sore muscles afterwards with a massage at the Westport Coast Hotel’s Spa Veda.
Mayhem, November 8
Physical and mental toughness is put to the test in the rich pastureland near Cahir, south Tipperary. There are 30 obstacles to negotiate on the 5k loop, including mud baths and Tarzan ropes. Even the most fanatically fit will be challenged by the Titan run (15k) with its 90 obstacles. The race is open to children over 14 and is a must for activity-loving families. Fuel up afterwards at the renowned Cafe Hans a 15-minute drive away in Cashel.
Remembrance Run November 8
Walk, jog or run the 5k route in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, in an annual event that’s so much more than just another race. It’s an opportunity to remember deceased loved ones as more than 3,000 participants come together to commemorate family and friends. Make sure to walk around the Furry Glen in the park’s south western corner afterwards: the spectacular autumnal colours reflected in the lake there make for great photos.
Life Style Sports Run in the Dark, November 11
Devised by the adventurer and campaigner Mark Pollack, who is both blind and paralysed, this charity event offers runners the chance to run 5k or 10k under street-light in the city centres of both Dublin and Cork to raise money to help find a cure for spinal cord injuries. With participants urged to wear fluorescent clothing, both races will be memorable sights for spectators and participants alike. The Ferryman pub near the Dublin finish-line is a popular spot for a post-race pint.
Run the Gauntlet, November 15
What better way to observe the majesty of Kerry’s Gap of Dunloe than a half-marathon taking in this fabled narrow pass between the Macgillycuddy Reeks and the Purple Mountains? Given the toughness of the course, this is not a race for those new to running, but even the most seasoned athletes are unlikely to have covered 13.1 miles in such a setting, whose sights include Coosaun Lough, Black Lake and the ‘Wishing Bridge’.
Clontarf half-marathon, November 21
Reputedly the flattest half-marathon in the country, this twice yearly event starts at Clontarf seafront, crosses the Wooden Bridge at Dollymount Strand and takes in a long stretch of beach. Hot soup is traditionally the welcome prize for all finishers, and those in need of extra sustenance are spoiled for choice in Clontarf: seafood at The Yacht Bar is always a good bet.
Wild Goose Chase, November 22
With all proceeds in aid of Ardee Hospice, there’s incentive other than the unspoiled Louth countryside to tempt 10k runners. Taking place near the quaint village of Reaghstown, a post-race visit to the luxury Darver Castle a 15-minute drive away is recommended, especially for runners with an appetite for fine food.
Run the Line, November 28
The rugged beauty of north Wicklow’s uplands is in store for those who take on this hill-running challenge, which offers a very different experience for those used to pounding the pavements. Lovers of the discipline may be tempted by the 26k course, while those new to running on trails might be more comfortable on the 13k route. Both courses start at finish at Lamb Doyle’s Pub - perfect for a post-run pick-me-up.
Clonakilty Waterfront Marathon, December 5
Anyone who missed the Dublin Marathon due to sickness or a ‘niggle’ can put all that long-distance training to good use in the picturesque maritime setting of West Cork. The course takes in the beauty of the Dunmore Headlands, Red Strand and Castlefreak Estate. Revive the aches of 26.2 miles at the thermal suite of Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa.
12ks of Christmas, December 12
With a name that plays on the 12 Pubs of Christmas craze, this decidedly healthier pursuit takes in the wide open plains of the Curragh. It starts and finishes in Kildare town, and a 6k option is available for those who might be feeling tender from all the Yuletide partying. Hot chocolate and marshmallows are served at the end - a sweetly festive touch.
For more inspirational ideas for runners, see www.discoverireland.ie #thisisLIVING