Five of the most scenic races to run in Ireland this summer
From Achill Island to Killarney and plenty more in between, there is a lot of choice
The Achill Island race won the award for Best Half Marathon and Most Scenic Route at the Run Ireland Awards in 2018. Photograph: Hugh Rooney
Achill Half Marathon and 10km
Venue: Achill Island, Co Mayo.
Date: Saturday, July 6th.
Cost: €50 for half marathon, €30 for 10km.
Achill Island is at the heart of the Wild Atlantic Way in Mayo and this race won the award for Best Half Marathon and Most Scenic Route at the Run Ireland Awards in 2018. Both races start and finish in the little seaside village of Keel, beside Achill Island Golf Club and the stunning Keel Beach. The half marathon route heads back towards the mainland and then north through the village of Doogort before turning back inland past Keel Lough. The 10km course goes around the lake and back into Keel.
Run Killarney Half Marathon and 10km
Venue: Killarney National Park, Co Kerry.
Date: Saturday, July 20th.
Cost: €55 for half marathon, €25 for 10km.
As scenic areas in Ireland go, it doesn’t get much better than Killarney National Park around Torc Waterfall, Muckross House and Lough Leanne. The 10km race starts and finishes at the Gleneagle Hotel which is located beside the INEC Killarney. The route goes out past Muckross Abbey, turning back just before Torc Waterfall and coming back along the shores of the lake. As for the half marathon, runners gather at the Gleneagle before getting a bus to the start point at Molls Gap. From there it’s a straight enough route back towards the hotel, past the waterfall and Muckross House and along the shores of the lake.
Portumna Forest Park 10km and 5km
Venue: Portumna Forest Park, Co Galway.
Date: Sunday, July 21st.
Cost: €10 for adults, €5 for kids.
Portumna Forest Park on the shores of Lough Derg offers a different type of running challenge through tall trees and windy forest paths. These races are the cheapest on the list and can cater for both serious runners as well as walkers and even buggies if you opt for the 5km. Both races start at Portumna GAA club and the 10km goes deep into the forest through some single track-trails so a good pair of runners is essential. The course is broken up by stretches of wider forest road as well which allow competitors to pass.
Rock N’Roll Dublin Half Marathon and 10k
Venue: Phoenix Park, Dublin.
Date: Saturday, August 10th (5km) and Sunday, August 11th (half marathon, 10km and family fun run).
Cost: €10 for family fun run, €23 for 5km, €33 for 10km and €50 for half marathon.
This is a run with quite a difference in that you will be accompanied along the way by live bands while running past some of Dublin’s landmarks before enjoying a full concert at the finish line in the Phoenix Park, headlined by Jerry Fish. The family fun run, the 5km and the 10km routes are all within the Phoenix Park, starting and finishing on Chesterfield Avenue. The half marathon begins at Fitzwilliam Square and goes down past St Stephen’s Green, along Thomas Street, through Inchicore and into the Phoenix Park at Chapelizod.
Hillsborough Castle Running Festival
Venue: Hillsborough Castle, Co Down.
Date: Sunday, August 18th.
Cost: £14 for 5km, £18.50 for 10km and £24 for half marathon.
Hillsborough Castle is the official residence of the Queen in Northern Ireland and while you probably won’t have her looking out the window at the race as it goes on, the gardens are as grand and manicured as you would expect which makes a nice environment for running. All races start and finish in the castle grounds. The 5km run goes around Hillsborough Lake and then back into the gardens while the 10km and half marathons head further out the road past Hillsborough Fort before swinging back.
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