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A Summer Guide to Adventure Racing in Ireland

Ireland has attracted elite athletes from all over the world for its famously grueling adventure races. These races are multi-sport events that often require a combination of running, cycling, kayaking, and incredible mental toughness. Adventure racing first took hold back in 2006 when Jamie Young, Director of Killary Adventure Company, partnered with Gaelforce to bring his dream of Irish adventure racing to life. With the support of Bord Fáilte, they created a one-day adventure race in Connemara that would become the famous Gaelforce West. This race would bring Ireland massive exposure, and adventure racing began to grow into the popular sport it is today. While these sporting events are held year round, the summertime is a particularly popular stretch. Here are just a few of many offered. Warning: these are not for the faint of heart. 

Race2Glory: 13th July 2019 

Head to Kiltimagh, Co. Mayo for this long established, 40km adventure race that will have you mountain running, cycling, and even river running. The steep descents and arduous climbs will test your mental and physical toughness as you strive to reach the finish line. There is also a newly created “sprint course” option, totaling at 20km, if you want to test how fast your legs can take you.

The Milford and District Adventure Race Donegal (MAD): 20th July 2019

Located in the heart of Donegal, this adventure race offers both a sprint course (29k) or an ultimate full course (59k) that test your fitness with a mix of running, kayaking, and cycling. Along the route, you see the stunning sights of Donegal while kayaking around Mulroy Bay, cycling through the countryside, and crossing the finish line at Milford Park. Full course competitors get the additional view of Donegal’s Wild Atlantic Way with a cycle up the famous Knockalla Climb and a mid-cycle run up and around the Windmills. The views might just make it worth it.

The Cavan Kayakarun Adventure Race: 10th August 2019 

One of the first adventure races in Ireland, this challenge welcomes both new and experienced competitors to take on its Body Tester courses that cover anywhere from 13k (junior division) to 58k (supreme division). With a combination of biking, running, and kayaking, the course takes experienced competitors through the Drumlins, around the crannogs of Barnagrow lake, and along Lough Sillan and Lough Tacker. If the focus on welcoming all competitors is not enough to convince you, there are also prizes, free t-shirts, and a huge after party.

Off the Bloom: 17th August 2019

Head out to the beautiful village of Kinnitty in Offaly for this newly established adventure race. Following the previous two year’s massive success, this year’s 70km Elite Race will be part of the National Adventure Racing Series. Participants get to explore South Offaly by road biking, trail running, and kayaking through the Slieve Blooms mountains. There is also a 37km Sport Race if you are new to adventure racing or want to test your speed.

The Lost Sheep Triathlon: 31st August 2019 

Now onto its 17th edition, this triathlon has become famously known as the hardest half iron distance race in Ireland. You start the race by swimming 1900m in Kenmare Bay before transition to an 83km cycle. The cycling portion will take you along the Beara peninsula and over two category one ascents: the Healy and Caha passes. You also have to navigate hairpin turns and steep downhills. The final portion of the race consists of a hilly 21km that will take you to the finish line in Kenmare town. You might want to start preparing now.

Quest 12/24: 31st August 2019 

If you are an adventure race veteran, unseasonably tough, or just want to put yourself to the ultimate test, then sign up for this adventure race. This one-day, individual, and unsupported race takes you along the Wild Atlantic Way in a feat of unparalleled mental and physical fortitude. Your fate rests in your choice between the 12 hour, 147km route or the 24 hour, 248km route, both of which require running, cycling, and kayaking. You will be taken through the mountains, valleys, and lakes of Kerry as you push yourself to your absolute limit.

Best of luck to you. 

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