Adventure Racing: 5 Of The Best Adventure Races In Ireland

Looking for an adventure race in Ireland? Here's what the Emerald Isle has to offer.

If you’ve been paying attention to our fitness-focused coverage recently, you might be aware that we recently published a piece that explored five of the best adventure race events in Scotland. Now, believe it or not, we did pay some attention during our school geography lessons and know that there’s more to the world than just Scotland.

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With that in mind, we’ve decided to mix it up and move our discussion onto five of the best adventure races that Ireland has to offer. From north to south, and east to west, these events prove that Ireland is a place teeming with epic adventure-filled landscapes and challenges.

1) Ireland – Coast To Coast (26 Extreme)

In 2016, the Ireland Coast2Coast event will take place on the 14th and 15th of May. Competitors at this legendary event, will traverse their way across Ireland west to east, making their way through picturesque Irish villages, and along one of Ireland’s most famous waterways (The Shannon – Erne Waterway).

Whether the adventure racers who take part choose to participate in the non-stop version or the two-day version, the 316km event route will take them across some of the best cycling, paddling, and running terrain the ‘Emerald Isle’ has to offer. Competitors will set off from Enniscrone in County Sligo, and race their way over some of Europe’s loveliest scenery.

If you’re looking for a multi-sport adventure challenge in Ireland that will inspire you and test you in equal measure, this is the one for you. The 26 Extreme Coast to Coast event will challenge you physically, but will also be a real treat for your eyeballs. Sign up, get training, and compete in this genuinely amazing adventure race. You won’t regret it.

2) Dingle Adventure Race

The Dingle Adventure Race is a one-day, multi-sport, race across a 30 mile/48 kilometre course in the Dingle peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland. The event is now into its seventh year.

Competitors start by cycling from Dingle to Cloghane via the spectacular Conor Pass. In terms of distance, this section of the adventure race covers 15.5 miles/25km of surfaced road.

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Following on from the cycling, participants will then hike/trail run their way from Cloghane to Baile Breac. This challenging section covers a distance of 6.5 miles/10km. After this, comes a road run from Baile Breac to Milltown/Dingle that will cover a distance of 7 miles/10.5km.

The Dingle Adventure Race finishes with a 1.4 miles-long/2km kayak race across Dingle Harbour. If you’re looking for an adventure race in Ireland that will challenge you, but not completely destroy you, the 2016 edition of this event is scheduled for the 11th of June.

3) Quest Killarney

Heard of Killarney? You should have. It’s Ireland’s self-proclaimed adventure capital, and with fair reason. The Quest Killarney events, held in March and October, are everything you love about adventure racing but with heaps of luscious Irish scenery thrown in for good measure.

In a nutshell, Quest Killarney is a one-day multi-adventure sport race. It takes place in the Gap of Dunloe and Killarney National Park. It offers five different routes, for people with different fitness capabilities, and can be entered as an individual or as part of a 2/3/4 person relay team.

Mountain running, road biking, kayaking; Quest Killarney offers it all. If you’re only looking to hit up one adventure race in Ireland it might as well be in a place that’s middle name, if it had a middle name, would be Adventure (with a capitalised ‘A’). Bring on Killarney. Bring on the Quest.

4) Gaelforce West

When it comes to adventure races in Ireland, Gaelforce West claims to be “the original and the best.” This excellent event is framed by the stunning Connemara landscape, with every single twist and turn of its lung busting course offering up another breathtaking view to the adventurers and fitness-nuts that are taking on the challenge.

One of the first things you should know about the 67km course is that it spans two counties (County Galway and County Mayo). The route takes competitors from Glassilaun beach to the heritage town of Westport. Trail/mountain running, walking, cycling, and kayaking; there really is something for everyone at the Gaelforce West event.

The terrain for Gaelforce, which in 2016 will be held on the 20th of August, encompasses mountain scree, bogland, trails, sealed roads and, most special of all, the poetic and awe-inspiring waters of Killary Fjord.

5) Westport Sea2Summit

In 2016, the Westport Sea2Summit adventure race event will be held on the 12th of November. For those not up to speed with adventure racing in Ireland, Westport Sea2Summit is one of Ireland’s largest adventure races. In the 2015 version, for example, over 2,100 athletes got into their fitness gear and took on this most challenging of outdoor challenges.

Depending on whether you enter the ‘S2S Spirit’ or ‘S2S Supreme’ event, the overall distance of your Westport adventure race experience will be either 30km or 56km. Both versions of the event featuring cycling, sea running, and mountain running segments so whichever one you choose you won’t be missing out in terms of sport (just distance covered).

The website states that advanced athletes should expect to finish the Spirit event in between 1.5 and 2.0 hours, with beginners taking between 3.5 and 4.5 hours to complete the same course. The longer, 56km route, ‘Supreme’ will apparently take advanced adventure racers between 3 and 4 hours to complete; whereas beginners should expect to finish 4.5 to 5.5 hours after they’ve started. Anyway, here’s a video featuring Kevin Kilbane.

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