Getting there...The Mealagh Valley is a secluded area a few kms to the north-east of Bantry in west Cork. If you are travelling from say near Cork City then you need to allow plenty of time to get to Bantry....say 1h 30m and then another 15 mins or so to get to the parking area.
The easiest way to get there is probably via Bandon....Enniskeane....Dunmanway....Drimoleague....Bantry.
Directions from Cork : When you arrive in Bantry, follow the road for Glengarriff to the outskirts of the town and past Caseys filling station. Take next right at Donemark bridge...
Once you turn off right, you stay on this narrow road for about 8 kms. Just keep going straight.
Directions from Kerry : As you approach the outskirts of Bantry, follow N71 passing the golf club on the right. After a long bend in the road, take the next left and follow the road as above.
Parking........They will have special areas set aside for parking. Follow the stewards instructions on the day.
Please note! There is no need to go to the Community centre before the race. They will be taking entries at Cronin's Yard which is approx 200 metres from the start line. The entry fee is €20 and the last time for entries is 11:30am. If you have pre-entered then you can collect your race number at Cronin's Yard from 10am on. The race will start at 12 noon.
Note that walkers and wheelchairs will start at 11am!
Bag drop........They will also have van at the start line if you want to leave your warm up top or a bag in it. This will be waiting at the Community Centre when you finish.
Course...The Mealagh Valley is a lovely quiet scenic spot for a race. It does however come at a price in that the course is very hilly. It's certainly not a race to set a 10 mile PB but it should be considered as more of a challenge.
From there, the road drops rapidly on the other side into a long downhill section. At the end, the road twists and turns in a series of short uphill and downhill sections until you come to the community centre.
Note that the finish line is just outside the centre. When you are finishing the race, you will be covering this part of the course again.
But first time around, you keep going! Past where the finish line will be and into another downhill section until you get to a narrow bridge over the Mealagh River which gives the valley it's name.
This is the lowest part of the course and just after the bridge, you come to the 1 mile mark. From here, the next 600 metres or so are really tough. It's all uphill but it changes from gradual to short steep secions and back again. The hardest part of the course is just before you reach the local primary school.....
If it looks steep then that's because it is! This is a really steep section but it's pretty short. At the top, you join another road...
The road now changes into a relatively flat section which will give you a chance to recover from all of that climbing. You are basically running along a road above the valley floor with a nice view of the surrounding area. It's not that the road is dead flat or anything like it but it is easier than the initial two miles. As you head up the valley, the road climbs but starts to drop after the 5 mile mark as you come to the next road junction...
From here, you are heading back down the valley again with views of the mountains of the Beara Peninsula way off in the distance. You might think at this stage that since you are heading back down the valley, it might get easier. Dream on! You get to around 7 miles and there is another long hill. Nothing drastic but still slow going.
Eventually, you get some fast downhill sections...
...and you eventually turn left and retrace your footsteps from the start towards the finish line.
Overall.....probably the toughest 10 mile road race in the country but it's a great spot when the weather is nice. As the organisers say, it's got everything except flat sections ;o)
The race director is Geraldine O'Sullivan and she can be contacted on 087 6173376 if you have any questions.
Bay Run Half-Marathon.....Please note that if you are interested in doing the Bay Run Half-Marathon from Glengarriff to Bantry on the 6th of May, there is a 20% discount to anyone taking part in the Mealagh Valley race by use of a special discount code.