5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon picks
The Dublin running calendar is packed full of really inviting races throughout the year and this makes it the perfect running tourism spot. Smash a race then go get Guinness or seven and an Abrekebabra - the perfect combination.
5ks, 10ks, half marathons and full marathons take place all over County Dublin nearly every week from Spring through until Autumn and they're a great way to explore the scenery and random parts of the city that you might otherwise not get to. Most of these bigger runs do sell out in advance and require a pre-event registration to guarantee a spot.
Also, if you're one of those people who MUST run every weekend otherwise you get the shakes and/or your limbs fall off then there's the ingenius 5k parkruns which take place all over Dublin. Dublin city centre in general isn't really made for jogging (or cycling, or just generally staying alive whilst moving quickly) due to traffic conditions, lack of pedestrian areas and a multitude of traffic lights however most people gravitate to the handily giant Phoenix Park for their morning and evening trots.
One half of Macanta Ireland has run a lot in Dublin - the other is averse to the early start times - and here's a pick of some of the runs that have got me out of bed on a weekend.
Bray 10k Cliff Run
When: Early April
Where: Greystone to Bray
Ease of access: Close to Bray DART station
Terrain: Undulating trail and beach running
This stunning run along the Bray Cliff path is a real off road treat. The coast-hugging path provides fantastic views out onto the sea and to the rocks below but eyes must be kept on the tricky terrain. The undulating course sandwiched between sadistic beach sections is certainly a challenge. It's not the simplest of races either - on-the-day registration in Bray followed by a transfer on the DART to Greystones and then a linear run back to Bray - plus Saturday late afternoon start, but it's well worth the minor inconveniences.
Wings for Life World Run
When: Early May bank holiday
Where: Dun Laoghaire
Ease of access: Close to Sandycove & Glasthule DART station
Terrain: Hilly road running
One of my favourite runs in Dublin for so many reasons. In this race there is no finish line, instead the runners start running then some time later a catcher car sets off slowly, gradually getting quicker until it passes you and your race is over. The race starts in the coastal town of Dun Laoghaire, follows some seriously Rivieraesque coastal scenery before a seemingly neverending ascent into the Wicklow Mountains. A real toughie after the first 10k. The entry fee of the simultaneous worldwide run goes towards the Wings for Life charity.
Malahide Castle 10k
When: Early July
Where: Malahide, north County Dublin
Ease of access: By bus from Dublin city centre or a fairly long walk from Malahide DART and Commuter station. Good parking facilities.
Terrain: Multi terrain park and forest running. Very flat.
One of two Summer Series runs, the Malahide Castle 10k is a very pleasant run indeed. In almost total silence you'll run through meadows and forests, past a cricket pitch and in the shadow of Malahide Castle. A good one for working on your PB and in a nice location but not the most atmospheric..
Clontarf Half Marathon
When: Early July
Where: Clontarf, east Dublin
Ease of access: DART to Clontarf Station and busses from city centre
Terrain: Mainly road with some beach
On Dublin's north side, the neighbourhood of Clontarf is the city's closest coastal area and makes for a convenient escape from Dublin city centre. The interesting route follows the promenade and leads out onto a small island containing Bull Island Nature Reserve and golf course. The curiously iconic Poolbeg Power Plant always dominates the horizon. Flat course, good for a PB.
Liberties Fun Run
When: Mid July
Where: Liberties, west Dublin city centre
Ease of access: Bus, Luas or just about walkable from city centre
Terrain: Flat city running, some cobblestones
At the strange distance of 4 miles, this is one in which to get a PB that you'll probably never get the chance to beat. The route might not visit some of the more desirable parts of Dublin but it still takes in old Dublin, gives the unique opportunity to run through the original Guinness brewery complex and starts and ends in the pleasant environs of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. Maybe not one for your first visit to Dublin but a well-organised run to consider. Added bonus of being a charity run whilst still competitively raced.
The Bay 10k
When: August bank holiday
Where: Dun Laoghaire, south Dublin
Ease of access: Close to Dun Laoghaire DART station
Terrain: Flat town running, some undulating
There's a lot to like about the south Dublin town of Dun Laoghaire (dun-leery) so why not run around it. This town based run boasts very nice coastal views and a finish on the promenade. It offers a fast track in which to get a good time.
RocknRoll 5k, 10k & Half Marathon
Where: Dublin City Centre
Ease of access: Easy Luas and bus access. Too early for trains from Greater Dublin area.
Terrain: Fairly flat city centre road running
The RocknRoll marathon is one of the few runs that take place in the city centre so this make it one of the more attractive for running tourists. The RocknRoll aspect is provided by a better than usual offering of live music around the course and a mini concert at the finish in Phoenix Park. There's also the interesting concept of being able to do a 5k on the Saturday followed by a 10k or half marathon on the Sunday to fill the medal cabinet up. The organisers lose a few points by being massive spammers.
Dublin Half Marathon
When: Late September
Where: Phoenix Park, west Dublin city centre
Ease of access: Easy by Luas and bus
Terrain: Undulating park run
Phoenix Park is Europe's largest urban park so it makes sense to have a number of the city's big runs take place here. They actually tried moving the official half marathon in 2017 but after a disaster it looks like Phoenix Park will be its home for the foreseeable future. This surprisingly undulating course is probably the best chance you'll ever get to explore every corner of this vast area.
When: Late October (October bank holiday)
Where: Dublin city centre
Ease of access: Easy from Dublin city centre but starts before Greater Dublin transport begins
Terrain: City running
Dublin Marathon is not the most attractive marathon but it is one of the best supported. The nicest bits - central Dublin, Phoenix Park and Kilmainham are out the way relatively early but then the genuinely supportive crowds of the many neighbourhoods along the route are positively goosebump inducing. This is a real event of a race and worth prioritising if contemplating travelling for a marathon.
When: Every Saturday morning
Locations: Throughout Dublin - Bushy Park, St Anne's Park, Malahide Castle, Marlay Park, Tymon Park
Ease of access: The early start might limit tourists to St Anne's
Terrain: Various but as the name suggests, mostly park running
Starting the parkrun timed 5k events was the best idea since vaccination or democracy. These informal gatherings of a couple of hundred runners happen every Saturday morning and are totally free. You will still get a proper timed competitive run and a place in the rankings plus it's a great place to meet people. Just remember to sign up online, print the barcode and bring it along.