Are you looking for a new challenge in 2022? Why not consider running in the mountains?!
Mountain running is a great way to hit the hills and challenge yourself in 2022. We’ve compiled a list of 15 of the best mountain running races to do in Ireland in 2022. There really is something for taste it all in this article of the ultra-endurance hard die-nut for uncertain beginners.
Misconceptions about mountain running
Perhaps the biggest misunderstanding about mountain running that we often see is that people think they should be moving at the same pace as their park running PBs, and if you’re hiking during a “race”, you have failed. It is not the case at all! We advise you to climb the hills on the first descents you do! Even professionals and race winners will be seen hiking during races. So slow down, get out, walk if you feel like it and have fun getting around the mountains!
Before we get to the start of this list of the 15 best mountain running races to do in Ireland in 2022. This list is subject to change depending on the restrictions at the time, but we will try to keep the list up to date as possible! Entries may be difficult to find for some events due to transfers from previous years or smaller racing abilities. We encourage you to grab a starter if you’re tempted as supply may be more limited than in previous years!
1. Art O’Neill Challenge
21/22 January 2022
Let’s start our list of the 15 best mountain running races to do in 2022 with an iconic one, The Art O’Neill Challenge. The Art O’Neill Challenge is a 60k ultra running and hiking event that takes place every January. This unique event begins at Dublin Castle in the dark and competitors walk or run to Glenmalure Lodge in South Wicklow. With a mix of self-navigating open road and mountain, this unique event, although sold out in 2022, deserves to be put on the to-do list for future reference!
2. Ticknock IMRA
February 13, 2022
If you’re new to Irish hill running, the Winter League Race on Ticknock is a great place to start. It is one of the first races on the Irish Mountain Running Association 2022 calendar. A familiar hill to many, Ticknock Hill is easily accessible from Dublin while offering a great diversity of trails. The winter race is an 8.4km loop around Ticknock with start and finish at the car park. Whether you’re new to hill racing in 2022 or looking for an early season tune-up race, this is a great race to consider.
3. Maurice Mullins Ultra
March 26, 2022
Originally the Wicklow Way Ultra, this race was organized by inspirational Irish runner Maurice Mullins, who sadly passed away a few years ago. If you want to know more about this incredible man, the Irish Times published an amazing article about him in 2014 which summarizes his athletic history and unwavering dedication to himself despite difficult health issues. you can read it here. The race itself is a 44km run with nearly 2000m of elevation gain along the Wicklow Way. An absolute must for any Irish ultra trail runner, the race begins and ends in Glencullen.
4. IMRA of Glacial Lakes
April 10, 2022
It’s an exciting race for the experienced mountain runner. This race is an unmarked mountain marathon in the Wicklow Mountains which requires excellent navigation skills as well as a good level of experience in the hills. The “course” requires runners to hit each of Wicklow’s glacial lakes. The race will take up to 5 hours for the winners. A very adventurous race for the calendar! The Glacier Lakes race can also be tackled as a relay team, more information on this race can be found on the IMRA website.
5. Gaelforce 10k Trilogy
April 10 / August 20 / October 15, 2022
The 10k Trilogy is an exciting addition to Gaelforce’s impressive racing offering. The trilogy includes Kippure 10km, Howth 10km and Bray Cliff 10km. The participation medals associated with these events stack together to give those who complete the trilogy a unique memento of the experience to go along with the amazing memories!
6. Seven Sisters Skyline
May 21, 2022
The 2022 iteration of the Seven Sisters Skyline will mark the 5th anniversary of this event! The race route for the event passes over the summit of the Seven Sisters in the Derryveagh Mountains from Errigal to Muckish. The terrain is incredibly challenging, but the views of the Donegal countryside are worth it! This race has become Ireland’s premier mountain running event and is part of the UK and Ireland Skyrunning series. There are two distances to choose from; a 30 km race as well as the 55 km round trip with more than 4000 meters of elevation gain!
The 30km race is also part of the 2022 World Mountain Running Association World Cup with races from all over the world!
7. Wicklow Way Relay
May 21, 2022
The Wicklow Way is Ireland’s oldest marked footpath and covers 130km from Marley Park to Clonegal. This trail is a little too long (for some of us!) to consider tackling it all at once. The Wicklow Way Relay, however, is a team race where eight riders race eight different stages of the Wicklow Way back to back. Teams must consist of two masters athletes as well as two female athletes. The Wicklow Way Relay is run north to south from Marley Park. It’s a great team run and gives those who complete it a huge sense of satisfaction that they’ve covered the entire Wicklow Way in one day!
8. Morne Way Marathon
June 10 and 11, 2022
In 2009, the Morne Way Marathon was the first ever mass participation off-road marathon in Ireland. Now, over a decade later, there are a number of distances to choose from on this great race weekend in the magnificent Morne Mountains.
Competitors can choose from a half marathon, full marathon, 84 mile ultra run, and 100 mile ultra full run. Whether you’re looking to get into trail running or take your distance to the next level, the Morne Way Marathon Series is what you’ve been looking for!
9. Mweelrea & Nephin
July 2 and 3, 2022
On the first weekend of July, Irish mountain runners will flock west to take part in two incredible races. On Saturday, the riders will tackle the powerful Mweelrea race. A 10.7 km race with more than 750m of elevation. This steep technical race will challenge even the most experienced runners. There is a shorter but equally challenging race on Nephin the next day. Tackle both in one weekend would be a great race weekend.
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10. Reeks Skyline
July 16, 2022
Perhaps one of the toughest races on the Irish mountain racing calendar, the Reeks Skyline encompasses the entire skyline of the magnificent Macgillycuddy’s Reeks, reaching twice the summit of Carrauntoohil! The run is 24km long and features a mind-blowing 2,400m of vertical drop, so it’s not for the faint-hearted and requires prior approval from the Irish Mountain Running Association. If you’re up for the challenge, this should be one Irish race you don’t want to miss!
11. Stone Cross in Lugnaquilla
August 20, 2022
Faced in ultra solo, or in a relay team of 3 runners, this 54 km open unmarked mountain race is a great navigation and physical challenge to aim for at the end of the summer!
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12. Kerry Way Ultra
September 2 and 3, 2022
Ireland’s premier ultra trail race, the Kerry Way Ultra, is an epic 200km run that covers the entire Kerry Way. Competitors will traverse some of the most spectacular scenery in the country, admiring magnificent coastal views as well as mountain scenery! The land includes everything; roads, lanes, paths and hillsides. Starting and ending in Killarney, runners have 40 hours to complete the course. Entries are limited to those who have completed two marathons in the previous 12 months or a 50 mile or 100 km event.
If the ultra full 200km isn’t for you this year, there are a number of other events taking place on the same weekend! The Kerry Way Ultra Lite is a 58km run which takes the Kerry Way between Sneem and Killarney.
Are you up to the challenge?
13. EcoTrail Wicklow
September 24, 2022
EcoTrail Wicklow is one of the most “European” trail races on offer in Ireland. On a Saturday morning in September, Bray’s boardwalk becomes a gathering place for trail runners from everywhere. EcoTrail Wicklow offers an 80km, 45km, 30km and 18km run to suit a variety of different abilities. The courses include some of the best North East Wicklow has to offer. There’s a big buzz around this event and it’s definitely the one we recommend doing this year!
14. Dublin Mountains Running Festival
November 19, 2022
Organized by the Dublin Mountains Running Club, the Dublin Mountains Trail Running Festival will take place in Glencullen in November 2022. Three distances are offered to runners at this event; a race of 25 km 50 km and 100 km. It is also a UTMB qualification event!
15. Run the line
November 19, 2022
Run the Line is a fundraising event for the Dublin Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team and takes place in the Dublin Mountains in November. Two distances are offered to competitors, a short course of 12 km and a long course of 26 km. The 12km course completes a lap of Ticknock Hill, including the top of Fairy Castle. The 26km route also passes Tibradden Hill as well as the beautiful woods of Cruagh. The event is extremely well organised, as you would expect from a Dublin Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team event, and is a great end of season challenge.
“A fantastic showcase of the diversity of running that can be experienced in the mountains of Dublin, there are a few moments you could be anywhere! I would absolutely recommend this race as an introductory event to trail running or as a goal for the season” – Matthew McConnell winner of Run The Line 2021
Have a good year!
We hope that all the races or adventures you will have in 2022 will go well for you and that you, above all, have fun! If you tackle any of these races this year, be sure to tag us on social media and let us know how you do!