Summiting Success: The Expansion of the IMRA West League in Irish Mountain Running

February 20, 2024

In a recent interview with Turlough Conway, Head of the IMRA West League, Run Republic gained insights into the expansion and success of this league under the Irish Mountain Running Association's umbrella. The league, primarily based in the west of Ireland, has seen significant growth, now featuring 11 races spanning from Galway to Donegal. With an emphasis on inclusivity and affordability, the IMRA West League is making waves in the world of mountain running.

One of the standout features of the IMRA West League is its commitment to keeping costs low, making mountain running accessible to a wide range of participants. Conway notes that the entry fee for each race is a mere €7, with an additional €10 for an annual membership covering insurance – a minimal investment for a thrilling outdoor experience. The league caters to various demographics, from elite runners to beginners, offering a welcoming space for individuals of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds.

The league has introduced women's races, designed to encourage and support women who may be new or hesitant to participate in mountain running. Conway mentions a specific race in Sligo focused on providing a comfortable environment for women to connect with each other and subsequently join more races. This commitment to diversity earned the league a nomination for an outdoors magazine award, highlighting their dedication to breaking down barriers in outdoor sports.

The IMRA West League has grown significantly, expanding from five races to 11 in just one year. The inclusion of races in Galway, Roscommon, and Donegal reflects the league's efforts to tap into the existing trail running community in these areas. The goal is not only to attract more participants but also to provide a sense of community and belonging for those already passionate about mountain running.

Conway emphasises the league's role in fostering a positive and supportive environment. He acknowledges the surge in trail runners in the northwest and the league's role in providing a home for their shared enthusiasm. The growth from 60-70 participants in the first year to an expanded and diverse race schedule indicates a promising trajectory for the IMRA West League.

Ultimately, Conway highlights that the primary objective of the IMRA West League is to enhance people's lives through enjoyment, health, and community. The races go beyond competition, serving as a means for individuals to embrace the outdoors, connect with like-minded enthusiasts, and improve their overall well-being. The league's races offer a mix of personal challenges, camaraderie, and the joy of being active in nature.

The IMRA West League's rapid growth and commitment to inclusivity underscore the positive impact of organized mountain running events. As it continues to expand its reach and welcome participants from diverse backgrounds, the league stands as a testament to the transformative power of outdoor sports in enhancing lives and fostering a sense of community.