Alain Rouiller
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Running

Best running routes in Dublin: Try out those gorgeous routes

Bursting with beauty year-round, Dublin is a perfect place to hit your runner's stride. Here are three routes worth checking out.
Written by Joe Ellison
9 min readPublished on
Exactly what makes Dublin such a runner's paradise?
Those gorgeous Dublin Bay views? The city's proximity to the Wicklow Mountains? Or could it be the rich history that flows through the heart city, be it James Joyce novels echoing in your ear as you pound the pavements of Grafton Street, or the joy of darting past the 400-year-old walls of Trinity College?
A vista over Dublin Bay, Ireland
Soak in the views over Dublin Bay
According to Lisa Shine, Communications Manager at Crusaders AC, one of the city's biggest and most historic running clubs, it simply comes down to the sheer amount of landscape on offer.
"It's the huge variety of running terrains that are easily accessible that make Dublin a great place to lace up your runners," she says. "From trail running in the Dublin Mountains, to park running in landscaped urban space to cross country running in Phoenix Park and jogging beside the sea, there is something for everyone."
"And when you're ready to test yourself in a race, Dublin also has some of the best events in the country," she adds, "including track races, the Dublin Marathon, and everything between."
Another event to pencil in your diary is the Wings for Life World Run, which returns on 8 May 2022 to raise for spinal cord injury research. It caters to all levels but if you really want to get some practice in then why not start today?
Here, three runners with knowledge of Dublin reveal the most rewarding spots in the capital to get some miles in...
01

Beach, please: Sean Moore Park to Shellybanks Beach (4k)

As recommended by: Lisa Shine of Crusaders AC
Strava route from Seán Moore Park to Shellybanks Beach
Seán Moore Park to Shellybanks Beach
"With stunning sea views, my favourite route in Dublin is one that starts at Sean Moore Park in Irishtown, Dublin 4, and heads out through the Irishtown Nature Reserve. It allows you to feel immersed in nature while only ever being about 3k from Dublin City Centre.
"It's recommended that runners include running on grass as part of their training and you can do that here. I suggest you start the route by running a lap of Sean Moore Park. On completion of this first lap, you will pass the playground on your left-hand side and take a left turn here, so that the beach and sea are on your right. Follow the path beside the sea as it takes a sharp right-hand turn and heads out towards the nature reserve.
"After about 1k, you will come to a short, sharp uphill section. Follow the path up the hill and onto a muddy trail. At this point, you are in the nature reserve and it's here that you can enjoy views across to Sandymount Strand and the Dublin Mountains in the distance. Back on the trail, the path takes a sharp left-hand turn and shortly you will see Shellybanks Beach down to your right. One option is to take the next left-hand turn through the trees, re-emerging on the coastal path before taking a right-hand turn to retrace your steps back to Sean Moore Park.
"You could also extend your run by continuing to the road at the far side of Shellybanks Beach, turning right onto this road, past the Shellybanks carpark and out onto the South Wall. The Wall itself is about 1.5km long, but the surface is quite uneven, so not ideal for running. Whenever you're ready to head for home, simply turn around and retrace your route back through the nature reserve. There are a few different trails through the trees in the nature reserve, so you could try exploring a slightly different route on your way back.
"The real gem here is the high point of the Irishtown Nature Reserve. After working hard to get to the top of the hill, you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of Dublin Bay, stretching all the way to Bray Head in the south, and taking in the Dublin mountains, the Aviva Stadium and many other Dublin landmarks. The beach at Sandymount Strand is also home to a wide range of wildlife, and is one of the best birdwatching locations in Dublin. At low tide, the beach extends for almost 2km to the sea and, on Summer evenings, it is often possible to witness thousands of birds on the sand.
"There are a number of Strava segments on this route, too. The most challenging is the 'Irishtown Park Hill' segment, consisting of 200m of uphill trail in the nature reserve. My running club, Crusaders AC, is based in nearby Irishtown Stadium, so many of the Strava segment records in the vicinity of the nature reserve are held by some very speedy club runners!"
02

Back in Black: A cliffside trip around Black Linn Loop, Howth (8K)

Howth running trail, Dublin
If you're looking for a scenic run in Dublin, Howth has it all
As recommended by: ultrarunner Conor O'Keefe
"There are few areas of Dublin that truly capture the city’s cosmopolitan metropolis and natural coastal beauty better than Howth. This gorgeous peninsula is situated on the east side of the city and is surrounded by the ancient Irish Sea. The Black Linn Loop as it is one of the most accessible routes in the area.
"There is no better route that takes in the hustle and bustle of the city and the breathtaking coastline in such a short distance. I first trained on this route while waiting for my girlfriend and what an unexpected treat it was, with plenty of smiling faces and happy doggos to keep you company along the way.
"Grab your trail shoes for wetter days as it's a mixture of tarmac and mixed gravel trail, and you can also expect a solid 160 m of ascent. As difficulty goes, I'd classify it as a medium route.
"One thing that is easy in the direction of the route itself. Start at the DART station, where you'll find plenty of parking, and follow the red arrows eastwards towards the cliffs. It's that simple. Follow the coast around and keep the cliffs on your left-hand side as you make your way along the route marked in red.
Howth, Dublin
This run around the coast is a real cliffhanger
"Handily signposted with red arrows, this trial will also take you past Howth Golf club and then the nearby GAA club. By the time you've passed Deer Park Golf Course on your left-hand side you know that you are nearly back at the DART station and your coastal loop is almost complete. All you do now is sit back relax and grab a bite to eat in one of the many local cafes and delis.
"For me, Dublin has everything needed to train for an ultra marathon. If this is route isn't challenging enough and you really want to train your aneroid threshold then head out to Marley Park for gnarly hill runs in the Mountains. Simply follow the Dublin Mountains Way or Wicklow Way WW (The WW route starts in Marley Park) out of the park and after a lovely climb, look out over the city as you stand atop Fairy Castle."
03

The Ambassador's Favourite: A half loop inside Phoenix Park (10k+)

A run route in Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland
You won't find a better trail than Phoenix Park
As recommended by: Dublin-based runner Gavin Kearney
"As the largest enclosed park in any European city - 1750 acres, to be exact - it's no wonder Phoenix Park has options for all ranges of runners.
"Whether you're gunning for a PB or just out for a leisurely jog, there are numerous highlights here. Home to Dublin Zoo, the striking Wellington monument, and, as it happens, the President of Ireland, who resides and works in Aras an Uachtaran.
"Given how the park can be a hive of activity in spring and summer, I prefer to show up just after dawn, where it can feel I have the place to myself except for the odd few other like-minded runners getting after it. I park near the Dublin Zoo car park, walk across to the Wellington monument where I stretch out under its soaring gaze, and then hit the trail.
Deer in Phoenix Park, Dublin
Forget your calves, be mindful out for the deer while running here
"The park has a few steep hills but on this route, we will stay mostly flat apart from the odd rise or two. First up, we head down Wellington onto Military road, taking in the view of the old Magazine Fort to our right, this stretch is about 2km, before a sharp right at the GAA Hurling and football grounds, where with another 1km to go with a very mild incline we run side by side with the Papal cross, a huge cross built in honour of Pope John Paul's visit to the park in 1979, when over one million were present.
"Another 1km will see you looking out at the stunning American Ambassador's residence [Deerfield], and if you go off track for a few hundred meters you will meet plenty of beautiful native Irish deer before looping back in with the visible main road through the park, Chesterfield Avenue.
"At this point, a right turn will take you back towards the start point for a decent 5-6km run. However, as I've been marathon training of late I've opted to head left on Chesterfield ave towards the stunning Ashtown Castle and Phoenix monument. To get the best view of the castle I run up Odd Lamp Road, before taking a right to loop around the rear of the Aras an Uachtaran. FYI, I find this is a great road for some fartlek training as I reach the end of my run. I loop back in, down the Spa Road and adjoining Lord's Walk, overlooking the Polo Grounds, where you might see an early morning game. My next stop: a local cafe for eggs Benedict!
"The park is usually open 24 hours a day, and being just 2km outside the city it's easily accessed on foot, tram or bus.
Looking for some running inspiration? Wings For Life World Run is returning on 8 May 2022. Click here to find out more.
And if you are in Dublin and looking to join a running club, look no further than Crusaders Athletic Club, which meets at the Irishtown Stadium and covers all kinds of track and field events.