Runners from all over Ireland and from across the globe will travel to Achill this weekend to take part in the seventh Elverys Sports Achill Half-Marathon.
The seventh staging of one of the most challenging but scenic routes on the athletic circuit in Ireland gets under way on Saturday, July 7 with over 1,200 competitors signed up to take part. Thousands more are expected to travel to Achill which has grown to be one of the biggest and most anticipated weekends of the year.
The Achill Half-Marathon is one of the most popular races on the ever-expanding half-marathon circuit and takes in some of the most scenic routes around the 21km route. The terrain of the course which starts along the Keel Sandybanks is a challenge for many of the athletes with the course testing the resolve and mental toughness of even the most experienced runners.
Last year, James Doran from Castleisland in Co Kerry set a new course record of one hour, 14 minutes and six seconds while Kathleen Manning from Enniskerry, Co Wicklow was the fastest female runner in a time of one hour, 32 minutes and 47 seconds.
The numbers running the race are expected to be slightly down on last year but Róisín Lavelle of Achill Tourism, who organise the race, does not believe that it will take away from the carnival spirit which the race conjures every year.
“The fall in numbers are to be expected given that the Volvo Ocean Race is in Galway at the same time but we are still expecting over 1,200 to take part. We are expecting over 3,000 to enter the island over the weekend and there are very few beds available. It has become one of the biggest if not the biggest weekend on the island and everyone always looks forward to it.
“The Achill Half Marathon, now in its seventh year, is one of the most popular in Ireland thanks to its sublime location and the great welcome the Achill people give the runners along the route, from start to finish and at every step along the way,” she said.
The Elverys Sports Achill Half Marathon will be officially started by the Minister of State at the Department of Tourism and Sport, Deputy Michael Ring at 11am with the registration taking place in the marquee on the Sandybanks on Friday, July 6 from 2pm to 11pm and on Saturday, July 7 from 8am to 10am.
Róisín said the success of the race is largely thanks to the organising committee, the race sponsors and the local volunteers who lend their support on the day of the race.
“We really appreciate the support of all the volunteers who help out over the weekend and give of their time to ensure that everything goes according to plan. It’s obvious that they enjoy meeting the visitors, so there’s a terrific atmosphere.”
More information on the race and about registration is available on www.achillmarathon.com.
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