Are you looking for a new challenge in 2022? Why not consider doing a mountain running race?! 

Mountain running is an excellent way to get into the hills and challenge yourself in 2022. We have compiled a list of 15 of the best mountain running races to do in Ireland in 2022. There really is something for everyone in this article from the die-hard ultra-endurance nut to the unsure first-timer.

Misconceptions of mountain running

Perhaps the biggest misunderstanding about mountain running that we see often is people thinking they should be moving at the same pace as their park run PBs, and if you are hiking during a “run” you have failed. This is not at all the case! We would advise walking up hills the first few hill runs you go on! Even the professionals and race winners will be seen hiking during races. So slow it down, get outside, walk if you feel like it, and enjoy moving through the mountains!

Before we dive in…

Before we get to the start line of this list of the 15 of the best mountain running races to do in Ireland in 2022. This list is subject to change as per restrictions at the time but we will try and keep the list as up to date as possible! Entries may be difficult to come by for some events due to transfers from previous years or smaller race capacities. We would encourage you to grab an entry if you are 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 top 15 mountain running races to do in 2022 with an iconic one, The Art O’Neill Challenge. The Art O’Neill Challenge is a 60 km ultra running and hiking event that takes place every January. This unique event begins in Dublin Castle in the dark and competitors hike or run to Glenmalure Lodge in South Wicklow. With a mixture of road and self-navigated open mountain this unique event, in spite of being sold out in 2022, is worth putting on the bucket list for future reference!

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2. Ticknock IMRA

13 February 2022

If you are new to the world of Irish mountain running, the winter league race on Ticknock is a brilliant place to start. It is one of the first races on the Irish Mountain Running Association’s 2022 calendar. A familiar hill to many, Ticknock Hill is easily accessible from Dublin yet provides a great diversity of trails. The winter race is an 8.4 km loop around Ticknock starting and finishing at the car park.  Whether you are new to hill running in 2022 or looking for an early-season tune-up race this is a great one to consider.

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3. Maurice Mullins Ultra

26 March 2022

Originally the Wicklow Way Ultra, this race was organised by the inspirational Irish runner Maurice Mullins who sadly passed away a few years ago. If you want to learn more about the incredible man the Irish Times published an amazing article on him back in 2014 that summarizes his athletic story and unwavering dedication to his physical self in spite of challenging health problems. You can read it here. The race itself is a 44 km race with nearly 2000m of climb along the Wicklow Way. An absolute must for any Irish ultra trail runner, the race starts and finishes in Glencullen. 

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4. Gaelforce Kippure 10km

10 April 2022

Gaelforce Kippure

Gaelforce Kippure is a scenic 10km race that is a perfect first taste of trail running or as a totally different experience for seasoned urban runners. The run takes place in the tranquil Wicklow countryside on Kippure Estate which offers 240 acres of untamed, natural beauty. And yet you’re only 30 mins drive from Dublin’s M50. Bonus!

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5. Glacier Lakes IMRA

10 April 2022

This is an exciting race for the experienced mountain runner. This race is an unmarked mountain marathon in the Wicklow Mountains that requires excellent navigational skills as well as a good level of experience in the hills. The “course” requires that racers touch each of the glacial lakes in Wicklow. The race will take the winners up to 5 hours to complete. A very adventurous race for the calendar! The Glacier Lakes race can also be tackled in a team as a relay, more information about this race can be found on the IMRA website.

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6. Gaelforce Howth Summit 10k

15 October 2022

howth summit gaelforce

This is city trail running, but not as you know it. The route will kick off at Howth Castle and take in the summit of Howth Hill offering sweeping views across Dublin Bay. The course will take in varied terrain and is a great event for those looking to dip their toe into the world of hill running.

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7. Seven Sisters Skyline

21 May 2022

The 2022 iteration of the Seven Sisters Skyline will be the 5th anniversary of this event! The event race route passes over the top of the Seven Sisters in the Derryveagh Mountains from Errigal to Muckish. The terrain is incredibly challenging but the views over the Donegal countryside make it worthwhile! This race has become Ireland’s premier mountain running event and is a 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 out and back in which involves over 4000 metres of climbing! 

The 30km race is also part of the World Mountain Running Association World Cup for 2022 along with races from all over the world!

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8. Wicklow Way Relay

21 May 2022

The Wicklow Way is Ireland’s oldest waymarked trail and covers 130km from Marley Park to Clonegal. This trail is a bit too long (for some of us!) to consider tackling in one go. The Wicklow Way Relay, however, is a team race where eight runners take on eight different legs of the Wicklow Way back to back. The teams must be composed of two master’s athletes as well as two female athletes. The Wicklow Way Relay is raced from north to south starting in Marley Park. This is an excellent team-based race that offers those who complete it an immense feeling of satisfaction having covered the entire Wicklow Way in a day!

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9. Mourne Way Marathon

10 and 11 June 2022

Back in 2009, the Mourne 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 at this great weekend of racing in the beautiful Mourne Mountains.

Competitors can choose between a half-marathon, full marathon, 84 km ultra race, and a full 100-mile ultra race. Whether you are looking at getting into trail running or looking to push your distance to the next level the Mourne Way Marathon series is what you’re looking for! 

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10. Mweelrea & Nephin

2 and 3 July 2022

On the first weekend of July, mountain runners in Ireland will flock to the west to take part in two amazing races. On Saturday runners will tackle the mighty Mweelrea race. A 10.7 km race with over 750m of climbing. This steep technical race will challenge even the most experienced runners. There is a shorter but equally challenging race on Nephin the following day. Tackling both in one weekend would be an excellent weekend of racing. 

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Top 8 Hikes to do in Connaught in 2022 

11. Reeks Skyline

16 July 2022

Perhaps one of the toughest races on the mountain running calendar in Ireland, the Reeks Skyline takes in the full Skyline of the magnificent Macgillycuddy’s Reeks, summiting Carrauntoohil twice!  The race is 24km long and includes a staggering 2400m of climbing so it’s not one for the faint-hearted and requires pre-entry approval by the Irish Mountain Running Association.  If you are up to the challenge this should be a bucket list Irish race!

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12. Stone Cross to Lugnaquilla

20 August 2022

Tackled as a solo ultra race, or as a relay team of 3 runners, this 54km unmarked open mountain race is a great navigational and physical challenge to set your sights on at the end of the summer!

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Tips for becoming a better runner

13. Kerry Way Ultra

2 and 3 September 2022

Ireland’s premier ultra trail race, the Kerry Way Ultra, is an epic 200km race that covers the entire Kerry Way. Competitors will pass through some of the country’s most spectacular landscapes, taking in magnificent coastal views as well as mountainscapes! The terrain includes everything; roads, lanes, trails, and hillsides. Starting and finishing in Killarney, racers have 40 hours to complete the course. Entries are limited to those that have completed two marathons in the preceding 12 months or a 50 mile or 100k event.

If the full 200km ultra is not for you this year, there are a number of other events that take place on the same weekend! The Kerry Way Ultra Lite is a 58km race that takes in the Kerry Way between Sneem and Killarney.

Are you up for the challenge?

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14. EcoTrail Wicklow

24 September 2022

EcoTrail Wicklow is one of the most “European feeling” trail races on offer in Ireland. On a Saturday morning in September Bray promenade becomes a place of congregation for trail runners far and wide. EcoTrail Wicklow offers an 80 km, 45 km, 30 km, and 18 km race to suit a variety of different abilities. The courses take in some of the best that northeast Wicklow has to offer. There is a great buzz around this event and is definitely one we would recommend doing this year!

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15. Dublin Mountains Trail Running Festival

19 November 2022

Organised by the Dublin Mountains Running Club, the Dublin Mountains Trail Running Festival will take place in Glencullen in November 2022. There are three distances offered to racers at this event; a 25 km 50 km and 100 km race. This is also a UTMB qualification event!

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16. Run The Line

19 November 2022

Matthew McConnell during Run The Line 2021 by @JuJuJay3

Run the Line is a fundraiser event for the Dublin Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team and takes place in the Dublin Mountains in November.  There are two distances available to competitors, a 12km short course and a 26 km long course. The 12 km course completes a lap of Ticknock Hill including the summit of Fairy Castle. The 26 km course also takes in Tibradden Hill as well as the beautiful Cruagh woods. The event is extremely well run, as one 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 Dublin Mountains, there are a few moments when you could be anywhere! A fast-paced race at the pointy end and a great challenge for all! I would absolutely recommend this race as an introductory event to trail running or as a season goal” – Matthew McConnell winner of Run The Line 2021

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Have a great year!

We hope that whatever races or adventures you get up to in 2022 go well for you and you, most importantly, 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 get on!

By Matthew McConnell

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