Connemarathon
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Fitness

These are 11 of the best running races in Ireland for this year

Looking for extra motivation to keep your fitness on track? We’ve got you covered…
Written by Ellie Ross
6 min readPublished on
The ninth edition of the Wings for Life World Run will take place on Sunday, May 8, 2022. For registration updates, complete global results and unforgettable highlights: visit www.wingsforlifeworldrun.com and download the new Wings for Life World Run App for iOS or Android.
Signing up for a race is a great way to keep your motivation up – and your fitness regime on track. Having something to work towards beats aimlessly running on the gym treadmill or pounding the pavements. A running race can also be a great way of exploring new places, taking you through some beautiful landscapes and wild terrain.
To give you a little extra inspiration, we’ve picked 11 of Ireland’s best running events – six on road and five off-road – for this year. So whether you're an expert runner or new to the racing game, we've got you covered.

Road Running Races

Connemarathon

24 April 2022
With half, full and ultra-marathon options available, this is one of Ireland’s most popular running races. Every year sees more than 3,000 entrants from 30 countries run through the dramatic landscape of Connemara. Starting and finishing in Maam Cross, the course winds its way past bogs, hills, lakes and the Twelve Pin Mountains. But you’ll have to be quick – there are still places left for this year’s event, but they usually get snapped up fast.

Belfast City Marathon

19 September 2021
2021 will see Belfast City Marathon be a Qualifying event for Abbott World Marathon Majors. This is an amazing opportunity for those planning to gain marathon points through a spring marathon, nationally and internationally. The Belfast Marathon will join more than 175 marathons across the globe giving runners the chance to earn ranking points. Weaving through the heart of the city, the Belfast City Marathon has been attracting thousands of runners from all over the world every year since 1982. Much of the course – which sets off from Belfast City Hall – is uphill, so be sure to head to the pasta party the night before the event to fuel up.

Portumna Forest Marathon

12 June 2021
Set in thick woodland, this event is described by organisers as “a spiritual experience” that tests the body and soothes the mind in equal measure. Covering an area of 450 hectares, the forest – located near a town called Portumna, which means “landing place of the oak tree” – is home to fallow deer, red squirrels, Scots Pine and Norway spruce. There are five route distances to choose from, ranging from 10km to 100km.

Achill Half Marathon and 10K

3 July 2021
With its towering sea cliffs and pristine beaches, it’s easy to see why the island of Achill attracts so many athletes from around the world for its annual half marathon and 10km race. Starting and finishing in Keel, the full course meanders for 13.1 miles through the island’s spectacular scenery, with vast mountain, bog and coastal trails ensuring a varied route. The Atlantic Ocean will be your constant companion as you run around the island.

Dublin Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

TBA
Rock ‘n’ Roll lovers, this is the race for you. Starting from Dublin’s Fitzwilliam Square East, this half marathon is all about the atmosphere – competitors are serenaded by various live bands as they make their way past some of Dublin’s iconic landmarks, such as the Ha’Penny Bridge, Christ Church Cathedral and the Guinness Brewery. The race ends in the Phoenix Park, where the festivities continue with a post-race concert. And with a 5km, 10km, fun run and family route also available, everyone can get involved.

Run in the Dark

November 2021
Brave the darkness with thousands of other runners from over 50 cities in one of the Run in the Dark events this November 2020 (exact date still TBC). There are three Irish locations – Dublin, Cork and Belfast – and you can choose from a 10km or 5km route. As well as the fact you’ll be part of a global event – and wearing a flashing red armband – you’ll also be running for a good cause, as the event is part of a global movement to cure paralysis.

Trail Running Races

Gaelforce Mountain Run
Gaelforce Mountain Run

Gaelforce Mountain Run

10 July 2021
Few things offer as much of a sense of freedom as running through the wilds of Connemara in this unique and exhilarating off-road running event. Starting and finishing in Killary Adventure Centre, the race takes you to places that are usually out of bounds thanks to a special access granted by local landowners for the event. And there’s something for all level of mountain runner, as you can choose from three courses – a 12km introductory, 13km intermediate and 22km expert. Expect steep climbs and tough terrain on both the expert and intermediate routes.

Maurice Mullins Ultra

TBA
A test for even the most expert runners, this 51km course is a way to experience the ruggedly beautiful Wicklow Way like never before. Prepare to sweat – there is 1940m of ascent along the way – but at least the epic scenery should help distract you as you trace this famous long-distance trail from Glencullen to Ballinastoe. For a softer option, there is a 25.1km course that follows the latter half of the 51km out and back course.

Bray 10km Cliff Run

30 October 2021
How about a sunset run along the clifftops? A super accessible run for running race newbies, this 10km route starts in the pretty town of Greystones, and traces the coastal path all the way to Bray. You’ll get some of the best views across Dublin Bay, and because the first wave begins at 4.40pm, you’ll be running as the sun sets, adding to the wow factor. Terrain will vary from beaches and sealed paths to rough, uneven trails.

Wicklow Glacier Lakes Relay, Co Wicklow

TBA
A 42km race through mountainous terrain doesn’t seem so bad when you can team up with your mates and run different stints. This relay event will see you and up to three pals tackle some of the highest glacial lakes in Wicklow, crossing rugged landscapes. The race is made up of four different stages – ranging from about 8 to 10km in length with about 600m in ascent – that can be divided among team members. Teams must carry mandatory kit including a map, compass, spare clothing and food.

Mourne Mountain Marathon

11-12 September 2021
Ireland’s only two-day endurance and navigation event returns to the beautiful mountains of Mourne in Northern Ireland. Attracting hikers and ultra-runners of varying abilities, it requires competitors to find their own way through the beautiful Co Down countryside using a map and camp under open skies. You’re also expected to be self-sufficient, carrying all your own gear, food, and water for the duration of the event.