In Ireland, it’s all about getting stuck in: whether you’re sweating it out in a marathon, kayaking downriver or sinking your boots into muddy grounds at a walking festival. After all, where else can you go from bogland to road to sandy beaches all within an hour? Ireland’s size makes it ideal for sporting adventures.
Belfast City Marathon
Ready to run?
If you’re all about epic scenery and tough terrain, then head west to the Connemarathon (April) in County Galway. Run through bogs and sleepy villages, past glassy lakes and hauntingly beautiful landscapes, all under the shadow of the mighty Twelve Bens mountain range. Your reward includes your very own t-shirt, medal and, of course, a huge sense of achievement!
Looking to really push yourself? Try the Belfast City Marathon (May): a run, wheelchair race, and team-relay option means there are many ways to enjoy racing through the city that built Titanic. Don’t have the energy for a 26-mile run? Try the Marathon Walk, an eight-mile walk specially introduced for ramblers – it’s the perfect way to participate in an event while soaking up the city sights.
Wander Wild Festival, County Kerry
Walk this way
If you want to take things at a slower pace and soak in the views, then try a walking festival. The Ballyhoura Walking Festival (October) in County Limerick – the oldest one in Ireland – started with a gathering of local walkers. Now, people flock here from all over the world. The gentle paths and forest tracks here mean it’s perfect for all ages. Along the way, guides will give you the inside scoop on local history and heritage.
Like your landscapes with a side of fantasy? Try the Wee Binnian Walking Festival (September) in the Mourne Mountains. Northern Ireland’s highest mountain range was the inspiration behind CS Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia and exploring the Mournes on foot ensures you won’t miss anything. The terrain covers boggy grass, forest trails and mountain tracks. Did we mention it’s an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty?
Cycling event, Armagh
On your bike!
Cycling is hugely popular in Ireland, and we’re not short of events to get you into gear. Try the world-famous Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle (July), a 170km circle around the Ring of Kerry. It might be hard to keep your eyes on the road with the views: wild, unspoilt terrain like the glacial valley of Dunloe and the majestic MacGillycuddy's Reeks, the largest mountain range in Ireland.
Meanwhile, the Wicklow 200 (June) bills itself as Ireland’s premier cycling challenge. Established in 1982, the event will celebrate its 40th edition in 2024. Starting in the seaside town of Bray, the route takes in some of the most scenic climbs in County Wicklow, including the Sally Gap and Slieve Mann. The Wicklow 200 medal you receive upon completion is something you’ll cherish for a long time!
See Cycling Ireland for more great biking events, from track cycling to mountain biking.
Gaelforce Great Lake Swim, County Clare
There is nothing as exhilarating as an adventure race in Ireland. It’s physically and mentally tough, but you’ll reap the rewards while enjoying the stunning scenery. The Quest Adventure Series is a run, cycle and kayak adventure around some of the most dramatic and remote landscapes in the world: from Killarney on the Wild Atlantic Way to Lough Derg in Ireland's Hidden Heartlands. There are terrains to suit every level of fitness, from hill trails to bogs and forest tracks.
If you’re up for a challenge in the wild west, then head for Gaelforce West (June) and the magnificent County Galway and County Mayo landscapes: Killary Fjord, Westport and Croagh Patrick are all part of the 66km course and you’re spoilt for choice with terrain: sandy beaches, bogland and winding roads. It’s equal parts challenging and beautiful.
Feel no fear? Then you’ll love FEARmanagh in County Fermanagh (September). Cycle, run and kayak your way through limestone peaks and valleys, before the 304-metre near vertical climb to the top of Magho.