The Magic Of Ireland
You don’t have to look too far to find a holiday destination that can provide memorable running options as well as a terrific break...
Do you fancy heading somewhere different this year but in these strange COVID times you’re operating on a restricted budget or maybe you don't want to venture too far? If you’d like to broaden your running horizons with minimal fuss and maximum fun then you could do a lot worse than consider a trip to Ireland.
But where to go? And what race to choose? Ireland’s a beautiful island - terrific scenery and incredibly friendly people and it does have a strong running tradition so there are events throughout the year and all over the country.
Let’s start with the big ones. Both Dublin and Belfast host popular marathons with Dublin's event always an autumn affair with an October date. The race was held for the first time in 1980 so organisers have had plenty of time to make sure their race through the historic Georgian streets of the city goes like clockwork. Runners are attracted by a flat course and a friendly crowd that gives you plenty of support along the way. And remember Dublin is a great city to celebrate post-race, just settle down to enjoy the Guinness and the craic as you relive your heroic deeds of earlier in the day. runABC's travel partner Destination Sport Experiences have some fantastic travel packages including guaranteed entry for Dublin.
Belfast is another city with a great marathon tradition, with its first staging just two years behind its southern counterpart! Taking place every year on the May Bank Holiday, organisers describe it as the 'largest mass sport participatory event in Northern Ireland' with between 15,000 and 18,000 participants taking part in several events.
If it’s a marathon you’re looking for but you’d like to see something of the Irish countryside then look no further than County Kerry, and the Dingle peninsula. There in early September you’ll find the Dingle Marathon & Half. The marathon completes a full loop of the peninsula while the half finishes near Dunquin (outside a famous pub called Kruger’s) with a bus laid on to bring you back to Dingle.
This is an opportunity to experience at first hand one of Ireland’s most beautiful regions as the Dingle peninsula is noted for its breathtaking scenery, with a rugged, unspoilt landscape and stunning beaches. It was the location for David Lean’s spectacular film Ryan’s Daughter - get yourself in the mood for a memorable trip by watching the movie and imagining the views as you run along in your chosen event!
Remaining with the scenic theme the Connemara International Marathon in April is a day of racing around a very beautiful part of the west of Ireland - there’s a marathon, a half marathon and a 39.3m ultra event. It’s usually a sell-out with a big international representation. Runners make long journeys to enjoy the dramatic setting of mountains, glacier lakes, rugged green-brown landscape in and around the challenging mountain wilderness of Galway. The course meanders past bogs, hills, lakes, and quiet villages. Extras include the Irish welcome, the sense of comradeship on the lonely route and the unmistakable buzz throughout the day.
It’s not just about marathons; Ireland has dozens of shorter races that might act as the focal point for a holiday with a running angle. One small race with a big reputation is the Dunshaughlin 10K which is run on a Saturday evening in June on quiet roads around the town which is about 20 miles north-west of Dublin. This is a well-organised event with a long history, great prizes, kilometre markers, a flat course and plenty of time afterwards before the pubs close.