Running in Ireland has exploded in the last couple of years. The evidence is everywhere. The odd lone after-work jogger has been replaced by weekly organised Parkruns; traditional cotton t-shirts and football shorts have given way to bright technical t-shirts, base layers composed of advanced materials and a whole host of flashy accessories; and most tellingly, marathon places are being snapped up at a rate that would make London or Berlin blush.
The predicted anticipatory fervour that surrounded the opening of Dublin Marathon registration this year surpassed everyone’s expectations – organisers’ and runners’ alike – and the event sold out in a frenzy at the beginning of December having set out its stall little more than a month earlier. In the lead up to most of the event’s iterations, you could still get an early bird special at this time with registrations traditionally tapering toward a slow saturation in May or June.
If like many eager potential registrants, you were left flat-footed by the news, don’t despair. Ireland’s running explosion has had a knock-on effect outside the capital, meaning there are many other opportunities available around the country that’ll allow you to lace-up for your 26.2-mile fix.
The Belfast Marathon organisers have unveiled a ‘flatter, faster’ route for the race in 2019. Starting at near Stormont, the imposing stately seat of power of the Northern Irish Assembly, the route takes runners through the Ormeau Road, Donegall Road, down the famous Falls Road, brushing landmarks like the Ravenhill rugby stadium and Queens University on the way.
Entry to the Belfast City Marathon will cost £55 until March 1, 2019, and £65 thereafter until the event has sold out. It’s scheduled for Sunday May 5, 2019.
There is one small caveat – unlike the Dublin Marathon and most major city marathons, walkers are not permitted. The organisers describe the event as ‘competitive’ with a strict finishing time of six hours.
There’s much more to the walled city than the Brandywell, Celtic Park and a wickedly funny Channel 4 hit show.
‘Don’t hit the wall – run through it’ exclaim the organisers of the Derry/Londonderry Walled City Marathon. Hugging the meandering River Foyle for more than three-quarters of the race, Derry’s 26-mile offering takes you on a tour through the historic Foyle Road, Victoria Road and across the Peace Bridge – with noted troubles flashpoints turned yuppie havens dotted throughout. Spending near equal time on both sides of the river, you’ll enjoy a flat course and spectacular views of a rejuvenated city eager to welcome the island’s running community.
Tabled for 8:30am on Sunday, 2 June 2019 the Derry/Londonderry Walled City Marathon is a perfect excuse to run one of Ireland’s flattest marathons and expand your knowledge of Irish history. You can enter now for a very reasonable £50 (approx. €57).
‘The friendly marathon in the heart of Ireland’ celebrates it’s 18th birthday this year. What separates this event from the others on this list is the extraordinary lengths the event’s organisers have gone to catering for runners of all abilities. Runners seeking a more beginner friendly experience can opt for the Streets of Longford 5k; there’s a half marathon for those who don’t want to expose themselves to the torment of 26.2 miles just yet; and a 39.3-mile ultramarathon for entrants who have been there, done that and already have a sizeable t-shirt collection.
Marathon entries before August 1 are priced at €50. It’ll be €60 thereafter. Half marathon and ultramarathon prices are €10 either side of the marathon price – less for the half marathon, more for the ultramarathon.
The cleverly titled Connemarathon isn’t for the faint hearted. Although the race takes place entirely on asphalt, the rural course mirrors the surrounding rugged terrain, with steep inclines and tricky surfaces aplenty. When posed the question ‘umbrella or sunscreen’ the race organisers put their hands up, pointing to Wild Atlantic Way’s stubborn reluctance to abide by forecasts. It could be one or the other, or both – runners should plan accordingly.
Although rough ascents and ropey conditions could deter fair weather runners, the risk is worth the reward. Connemara is home to some of Ireland’s most attractive scenery with lush wild greenery, idyllic farmland and expansive mountain vistas following runners throughout.
Three options – a half marathon, full marathon and 39.3-mile ultramarathon – are available, priced at €65, €70 and €75 respectively. The event kicks off from Lough Inagh on Sunday, April 14 2019.