Ricky Cowan’s top five hill runs
1. Carrauntoohil (1,038m) is Ireland’s highest mountain and a must-do for any self-respecting mountain runner. The views from the top on a clear day are spectacular. A misty day turns the race into a real test, only to be contemplated by the seasoned mountain runner.
2&3. Mweelrea (814m) and Croagh Patrick (764m) These two races, held in the first weekend in July as part of the Connaught Championship, are on Ireland’s west coast.
Mweelrea, the highest mountain on the west coast, starts from a beach. With no discernible paths, it makes for interesting route choices.
Because of Croagh Patrick’s religious significance, and with a church on the top, it’s probably Ireland’s most visited mountaintop. This race has a strange but enjoyable atmosphere, taking first the pilgrimage route to the top past the church and on to the next peak before descending at speed into the next valley.
4. The Slieve Donard (850m) race runs from the main street in Newcastle, Co Down, to the summit of Slieve Donard (the highest mountain in Northern Ireland) and back. This race has been run annually for 73 years with a record time of 54 minutes up and down.
5. The Seven Sevens race, which covers the seven highest mountain summits over 700m in the Mourne Mountains, is 19 miles in length with over 9,000ft of climbing. Awesome.