Irish Mountain Cardio: A Thriving Trail Running Community in the Dublin Mountains

February 20, 2024

In the heart of the Dublin Mountains, a thriving trail running community has been making waves since 2017. Irish Mountain Cardio, founded by Mark Foley, has become a beacon for fitness enthusiasts and trail running aficionados alike. In this interview with Run Republic, Mark shared the journey of Irish Mountain Cardio, its humble beginnings, and the resilience it showed in the face of challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2017, Foley set himself the task of running the 126km Wicklow Way race and with that, he decided to document his training on Facebook. He named the page Irish Mountain Cardio and from there people began reaching out looking to join in with Foley's mountain runs. This organically lead to a small group of people getting together for runs in the mountains every Wednesday and Saturday, and Mark never ended up running the 126km race at all, focusing on growing the club instead.

These weekly runs began to foster a sense of community within the tight-knit group of like-minded runners and the group grew into a thriving club in the Dublin Mountains. Since its inception in 2017, the club has grown steadily and now boasts a membership of 40 individuals, each contributing to the vibrant spirit of the community.

The resilience of Irish Mountain Cardio was put to the test when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, forcing a two-year hiatus. Undeterred, the club made a triumphant return, rebuilding its numbers and regaining the pre-pandemic momentum. The commitment and passion of the members, coupled with Mark's dedication, ensured the club's continuity and success in the post-COVID era.

It's not just about physical fitness; trail running in the mountains offers profound mental health benefits. Mark emphasises that the act of putting on running shoes and immersing oneself in nature can have a transformative impact on mental well-being. The mountains provide a sanctuary for sanity, offering solace and a reprieve from the stresses of everyday life.

Beyond the trails, Irish Mountain Cardio nurtures a vibrant social scene, fostering connections among members. After each run, the group gathers at a local coffee shop, breaking down barriers and creating a welcoming environment for newcomers. Mark highlights the club's inclusive approach, encouraging individuals from all walks of life to join and share their goals for the year. Whether someone's primary focus is football or another sport, Irish Mountain Cardio supports diverse aspirations and helps individuals set and achieve new fitness milestones.

Mark passionately advocates for pushing boundaries and challenging oneself. The club encourages members to participate in a variety of events, expanding their horizons beyond their comfort zones. Even if trail running is initially perceived as tough, the rewards are immense. Through consistent effort and encouragement, participants find joy in conquering challenging terrains, be it on wet and windy Wednesday nights or snowy Saturday mornings. The camaraderie built during these shared experiences not only contributes to physical well-being but also provides a sense of accomplishment and confidence that transcends into everyday life.

Looking ahead, Mark expressed his ambition to grow the sport of trail running. While acknowledging the difficulty of trail running, especially for those transitioning from road running, he underscores the importance of perseverance. Mark believes in the rewards of the sport and aims to instill confidence in individuals, giving them tangible goals to strive for. Trail running, with its physical and mental benefits, becomes a holistic pursuit that transforms individuals, and Mark's vision for Irish Mountain Cardio is to share these rewards with as many people as possible, fostering a community of trail runners who find fulfillment and joy in the mountains.