The Warriors Run
A run for warriors
It takes a long time to walk up a mountain. It takes less time to run up said mountain. And behold the Warrior Run in Strandhill, County Sligo was born. This is a run that has spread in infamy for its extreme elevation but every August draws a sell out crowd of foolhardy runners hungry for the challenge. The views and post-run party aren't bad either.
At only 15 kilometres it might sound like a figurative walk in the park but the middle section is built around the hardcore ascent of the 1070ft high Knocknarea mountain followed by a terrifying descent. The route up to the cairn-topped summit is direct and extremely tough. Less of a run than a quick walk, the pace of the long slog is only quickened due to the sense of not wanting to slow down the procession of runners behind. After reaching the top the fun really begins.
If, like in 2017, the fog has rolled in and the hills have been battered by rain. the equally direct downhill path combines with a torrent of water lashing over the increasingly slippery rocks The views that should have spread as far away as County Donegal are shrouded in grey but it doesn't matter, your eyes won't leave the path as you plot the safest and quickest route down whilst every expletive imaginable runs through your head on loop.
The prettily-located coastal village of Strandhill is the beginning and end point of the run and the atmosphere is incredible, Hundreds of people gather round to cheer their fellow locals as well as complete strangers who descend on the village every year. This electric atmosphere carries on long into the night as the pubs fill up to the rafters and the drink and craic is flowing. From the runners adorned with their Queen Maeve-themed (ancient Irish warrior Queen and all round smoking hottie) medals and t-shirts, to spectators and the all-important volunteers, everyone has earned it.
The tough route and the convivial atmosphere is what draws 800 people to make this a sell out within hours of registration going live in late May. If you miss the date there is a set window where one can take the place of anyone who wants to give up their place. Prepare for competition if you decide to go down this route.
On the race day itself it's a good idea to arrive early as the few roads into the village begin to close and the parking facilities are decent not endless. If staying in the town of Sligo there's a regular shuttle bus to the start point. All in all, a very organised event.
Check out the website for more details: http://www.warriorsfestival.com/.