Do you like running off the beaten path or testing the real limits of your endurance? Then, mountain running could be for you!
Fell running in Northern Ireland is an exciting endurance sport which is growing every year. It caters for a wide range of participants from fit recreational runners to dedicated international athletes. Organised events are primarily centred around official races and there are several championships and race series in Ireland. Races can vary from 3 km to 20km and are run over of a variety of terrains from rough open mountain sides to hidden forest tracks.
Fell running is a hugely rewarding sport, pushing participant's endurance to their limits. Proficiency and confidence comes with experience and the correct footwear.
How to get started
As mountain running is primarily a race-centred activity, the best way to start is by contacting the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association. NIMRA organises a full and varied programme of events centred around the Mountain Running Championship. The Mourne Hill & Dale Series comprises of 11 races held on Thursday evenings between April and June, many of which provide a good introduction to the sport.
Is it easy?
Whether you are an experienced road runner or just generally enjoy keeping fit, mountain running is a relatively accessible and rewarding sport for beginners. Navigation skills are desirable for competitive races however there are a number of easier terrain races, some of which are marked out, suitable for beginners. Familiarisation with the terrain is always advisable and responsible safety precautions are essential, particularly in poor weather conditions. Participants generally progress to longer, more demanding events as their experience and competency increases.
Is it expensive?
Fell running in Northern Ireland is not expensive to start. The main costs cover specialised footwear and suitable clothing (see below). There may also be a small participation fee for official race events. Normal road running shoes are generally not suitable for descending. Most runners use specialist mountain running shoes, with a tight fitting upper, thin midsole and rubber studs. Under good conditions Mountain Running is done in shorts and a vest or thermal top but race organisers can insist on full body waterproof cover.
Competitors should arrive at races prepared to carry any or all of the following:
a) Windproof/water resistant whole body cover (jacket and over trousers)
b) Other body cover appropriate for the weather conditions (for example, hat, gloves, extra clothing)c) Map and compass suitable for navigating the course
e) Emergency food (long races)
Most competitors bring this equipment to all long, medium and short events as some organisers set mandatory regulations depending on weather conditions.