Galway Trail Running: From Mud-Covered Beginnings to Official Club Status

February 12, 2024

In the last couple of weeks, Galway Trail Running have been accepted by the Galway County Athletics Board and Athletics Ireland to become the first official trail running club of Connacht, with their official launch taking place later this month. 

In an interview with Run Republic, Francis Kelly, founder of Galway Trail Running, detailed the club's journey from its humble beginnings to its imminent official status.

In 2017, after facing IT band issues during a marathon, Francis Kelly found himself scouring the internet for solutions. Google's advice? Get off the roads and try trail running. Intrigued, Kelly laced up his trail runners and explored the local trails around Galway.

What began as a personal experiment evolved into a love affair with the unpredictable and exciting world of trail running.

During Covid lockdown in 2020, Kelly connected with the trail running subgroup of the Galway Bay Brewery running club. Recognizing the potential for a dedicated trail running community, he decided to create a distinct entity. In September of that year, a WhatsApp group was formed, followed by a Facebook page in November. The community slowly grew, with runners sharing photos of their muddy escapades, attracting others to join.

In 2022, the Galway City Sports Partnership reached out to Galway Trail Running during the Her Outdoors initiative. The club organized a six-week beginners' course, introducing 20 women to the joys of trail running. Buoyed by the success, they decided to elevate their game, rebranding with a new logo and expanding their online presence with Instagram.

Conversations with Athletics Ireland ensued and having never been involved in Athletics, Kelly had to learn all about the politics involved in establishing an official club over a number of months. These talks with Athletics Ireland and the Galway Athletics Board, Galway Trail Running got its vote over the line at the end of January 2024. By the end of February, Galway Trail Running aim to be officially launched and to have their very own website up and running.

Looking ahead, Galway Trail Running aims to reach 50 paid-up members by March, targeting 100 by the end of the year. The club, with over 1,100 Facebook followers and 500 on Instagram, prioritizes professionalism in its online presence. Kelly emphasizes the importance of visibility in a digital age, aiming to stand out as a professional and welcoming community for both experienced and novice trail runners.

Galway Trail Running's journey from a solitary runner exploring local trails to an officially recognized club showcases the power of community, passion, and perseverance. As the club sets its sights on future milestones, it remains a testament to the transformative impact of trail running on individuals and communities alike

Featured Image Credit: Colin Callanan

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