Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Fell Running and Mountain Running in the UK and Ireland...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fell Running and Mountain Running in the UK and Ireland...

There was an interesting article in the Telegraph newspaper last weekend about the sport of Fell Running in the UK. While it is more often called mountain running in Ireland, Fell Running has a much bigger following in the UK with plenty of races. The main difference of course is that the UK has roughly 62 million people as compared to some 4.5 million in Ireland. With a population of that size, there are always going to be more people involved in what might be termed minority sports.

I first came across fell runners in the UK when I was doing some hillwalking around Ben Nevis in Scotland. As the highest mountain in the UK, it is obviously like a magnet for walkers and runners alike and sure enough, I saw several people running up and down the mountain on the main route and they were just training! Out of many times I have been up on Carrountoohil which is Irelands highest mountain, I think I might have seen runners once so they're a rare species here indeed ;o)

So what is Fell Running? Essentially most events start at the base of a run up to the top...and you run back down again. It is usually a lot more difficult than your usual type of road race in that you are not only competing against the other runners but in a sense, you are testing yourself  against the mountain itself. On the way up, the fact that you are out of breath and with the build up of lactic acid in your legs, it means that your are going to be slow and it's a long slog. However, slow also means you as long as have warmed up properly, you won't get injured. Coming down though is a completely different story as you are often doing your best to stay upright without falling over. It's a lot rougher on the joints and this is the stage where most accidents happen. Obviously not a sport for everyone but it has it's fans!

The body for fell running / mountain running in Ireland is the Irish Mountain Running Association. They have a calendar of events all over the country with several in Munster. Most of the small Munster races might get around 30 entrants with a fairly diverse range of speeds. It's not just for fast or elite runners.The next event in Munster is on the Galtee Mountains on the 19th of February. I will add these races to the Cork and Munster Race Calendar as the year progresses if you are interested in trying one.

 For more information on Fell Running, there is a book called Feet in the Clouds: A Story of Fell Running and Obsession


Anonymous said...

John Lenihin from riocht club in kerry was the world mountain running champion in 1991. The masters also picked up medals this year in the world championchip.There's nothing like reaching the cross on the top of carrauntohill or galtymore and gunning it back down the mountain, brakes off brain off. Claragh mountain race in millstreet is a lovely shorter mountain race in april for anyone looking for something different to road racing.

Anonymous said...

Feet in the clouds is a fantastic read.

Brian said...

Fell running aka mountain running in Ireland is a worthy venture but not to be treated lightly. Uphill is a misery inducing lactate burn where little sympathy is received from fellow runners, comments such as weakling, lightweight, "they were tougher in my day", "sure it isn't even raining yet" etcccc.. are normally spat in many directions! 5min/mile times evaporate to at least 12-15min on tough steep ascents. Then just when you wish you had recovered the hard bit arrives, incessant downhill pounding at a suicidal pace, leading to many a running career cut short due to anklitis (code for torn ligaments, ripped tendons, dislocations etc), though a 5min/mile is a doddle, gravity is amazing.

Best to start off on the earlier trails such as linked in the article above, going at Galtymore or Carrauntoohil at full tilt as your first race is a recipe for disaster and injury.

Feet in the Clouds by Richard Askwith is a classic read irrespective of whether you run in the hills (fells, mountains, hurt arena).

This blog is well worth a look, especially the archives, just in case anyone is interested.

John said...

another good mountain running site is
Mountain running requires a different approach and will often require more energy to finish a race. Running down a mountain really focuses the mind and natural instincts and reflexes emerge to keep you upright and enjoying the views. I think that there is no other type of running that matches running in the mountains.