IMRA West League Opener in Union Wood

May 10, 2024

The IMRA West League, a burgeoning force in the realm of mountain running, is gearing up for its much-anticipated opener in Union Wood this coming Saturday. Nestled in the scenic landscapes of the West of Ireland, this league has rapidly gained traction, showcasing 11 exhilarating races that traverse the rugged terrains from Galway to Donegal. What sets this league apart is not just its geographical expanse but also its core values of inclusivity and affordability, making it accessible to a wide range of participants.

Originating in Sligo, the heart of the West League beats with the passion of its Director, Turlough Conway, whose deep-rooted love for running and connection to the region propelled this initiative forward. Turlough, while honouring the league's beginnings, is also excited about its organic growth beyond Sligo.

The growth of the IMRA West League this year is nothing short of impressive. From just 5 races confined to Sligo last year, the league has now expanded to 11 races, with events in Donegal, Roscommon, Mayo, and multiple races in Galway. The inclusion of these new locations not only diversifies the league geographically but also promises thrilling new terrain and challenges for participants.

The excitement is palpable as the first race kicks off in Union Wood, boasting a remarkable 100+ entrants, setting a vibrant tone for the season ahead. Particularly noteworthy is the influence of the Sligo Women's Trail Series, which has spurred a significant influx of women transitioning into the West League, signalling a positive trend towards greater inclusivity and participation in the sport.

The Union Wood race marks the exciting commencement of the IMRA West League, offering participants an 8km trail with an elevation gain of 228m. This challenging yet exhilarating course takes runners through a variety of terrains, including gravel paths, winding single-track trails, and hilly off-road sections. The highlight of the race is the ascent to the top of Union Rock, treating runners to a breathtaking panoramic view of County Sligo before descending via a boardwalk.

Safety is paramount, with organisers advising participants to keep to the sides of the boardwalk during the descent for optimal safety. After navigating the rocky terrain, runners will sprint across 2km of flat gravel paths to cross the finish line, culminating the race with a burst of adrenaline and accomplishment.

The IMRA West League opener in Union Wood isn't just about competition; it's a celebration of nature, fitness, and community spirit. As participants lace up their runners and embrace the challenge, they join a growing movement that embodies the joy and resilience of mountain running in Ireland's stunning west.

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