Galway Trail Running: Navigating the Unique Challenges and Excitements of the Sport

February 14, 2024

In a recent conversation with Francis Kelly, founder of Galway Trail Running, we explored the distinct differences between traditional road running and the captivating world of trail running. Beyond the obvious variances in gear and preparation, trail running offers a unique community, a sense of escapism, and a connection to nature that sets it apart from its asphalt-bound counterpart.

Kelly emphasises the significance of specialised gear in trail running, ranging from vests and hydration systems to first aid kits and even satellite communication devices for those tackling remote mountainous terrains. The preparedness required is a testament to the unpredictable challenges of trail running, where twisting an ankle in a secluded area could lead to potential dangers.

Trail running's community is described as 'a bit mad' by Kelly himself, but the camaraderie among trail runners is highlighted as a distinct feature, akin to road running but with an added layer of adventurous spirit.

Kelly views trail running as a form of meditation, a way to achieve mindfulness by immersing oneself in the natural surroundings. The sport provides a mental break from the stresses of daily life, allowing runners to focus solely on the present moment, much like other meditative practices.

Unlike traditional running clubs with established tracks and clubhouses, Galway Trail Running takes a nomadic approach. The "club track" spans from Clifden to the Burren, showcasing the diverse and expansive landscapes the runners traverse. This unique approach has led to a broader, county-wide inclusivity rather than a localised focus.

Galway Trail Running has ambitious plans for the future, including weekly drills, hill work, and a focus on technical aspects specific to trail running. The club aims to bridge the gap between experienced runners and beginners while actively promoting the sport through participation in events and organizing beginner courses.

A groundbreaking vision for Galway Trail Running is to establish the juvenile division of the club in 2025. With an eye on the future, Kelly underscores the importance of training the younger generation, anticipating the sport's inclusion in the Olympics in the next 12-16 years. The club's foresight aims to prevent Ireland from being left behind on the global stage.

Galway Trail Running, under the leadership of Francis Kelly, stands at the forefront of promoting and advancing trail running in Ireland. From the nomadic approach to the inclusive community and forward-thinking plans, the club is not just navigating the challenges of the sport but actively shaping its future. As trail running gains momentum, it's clear that Galway Trail Running is set to leave a mark on the landscape of Irish athletics.

Featured Image: Taken by Oisín Clarke