Conquering the Glenmalure: The Circuit of Avonbeg Challenge

May 24, 2024

This Sunday, the beauty of the Glenmalure Valley will serve as the backdrop for the Circuit of Avonbeg, the second race in the 2024 IMRA Leinster Championship. This gruelling race, renowned for its difficulty, attracts the most dedicated and experienced mountain runners. Participants must navigate a challenging 25km course, ascending over 1300m across open mountains.

Rated 10 out of 10 on the IMRA difficulty scale, the Circuit of Avonbeg is a true test of stamina, navigation, and hill-running skills. Unlike marked trail races, this event requires runners to be entirely self-sufficient. They must use maps and compasses to find their way from checkpoint to checkpoint, emphasising the importance of orienteering skills alongside their physical shape on the day.

The race begins in Ballinafunshoge, with competitors setting off to conquer a series of checkpoints, including Arts Lough, Clohernagh, Lugnacoille, Mullacor, and others, before making their way to the finish. Each segment of the course presents unique challenges, from steep climbs to rugged terrain, ensuring that only the most prepared will succeed.

With a winning time projected to be close to three hours, the fastest runners will need to combine speed with precise navigation. For most, however, the race will be a test of endurance, with many participants expecting to spend upwards of four hours traversing the hills.

The Circuit of Avonbeg usually attracts a dedicated core of runners, eager to challenge themselves in one of Ireland's most picturesque landscapes. These athletes, many of whom are looking to consolidate their positions in the Leinster Championship standings after last month's Dargle 4 Peaks race, will need to draw on all their experience to succeed.

As the competitors line up on Sunday, they will face not just the physical challenge of the mountains, but also the mental challenge of navigating through Ireland’s wild terrain.

Featured Image: by Mick Hanney

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