650 to take part in Seven Sisters Races

IONAD Cois Locha in Dunlewey will be a hive of activity this evening as some 650 participants in the Seven Sisters Skyline endurance races register to take part.
This is the fifth anniversary of the race which takes in seven peaks from Muckish to Errigal but is its first running as part of the 2022 World Cup, organised by the international World Mountain Running Association (WMRA). The event will start in Dunlewey tomorrow (Saturday) and conclude with the prize giving and a night of entertainment in An Chuirt Hotel.
Speaking to the Donegal News this week Fiona Stapleton, Marketing Manager for Excel Sports, Ballybofey, organisers of the event, spoke of the excitement building and the influx of participants and friends to the Donegal Gaeltacht area.
“We are delighted that the two events, the 55 km and 30 km races are fully booked with participants from at least 12 different countries, the USA being furthest away. We also have participants from the United Kingdom, Spain, Isle of Man, Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Germany, the Czech Republic and Canada.
“Having become the first of the 2022 Mountain Running World Cup, it really puts Donegal on the international mountain running map. It is one of 17 races around the world on the WMRA World Cup Calendar this year. There are only five World Cup Silver Label races held in five countries – Peru, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Portugal, and here in Donegal,” Fiona said.
She moved to assure land owners whose property the endurance race participants will cross, that Excel Sports are fully insured for the event.
The organisers did contact one hill owner this week who had complained on Facebook that he had not been contacted, to reassure him on all aspects regarding insurance for the races crossing his lands.
Speaking at the Fáilte Ireland launch of the event Eunan Quinn, founder of Excel Sports, said he was delighted to be there with representatives from Fáilte Ireland, Donegal County Council, Údarás na Gaeltachta, and their sponsors Kinnegar Brewing.
“There is no doubt that this is going to be the biggest year yet for our race, which is also celebrating its fifth anniversary. Mountain Running in Ireland has never been more exciting,” he added. Fáilte Ireland are investing in the event with Ciara Sugrue of Head of Festivals and Events pointing out that “participative festivals like this not only attracts competitors from around Ireland and overseas, it also encourages families and supporters to stay and explore the local area, which in turn is beneficial for local businesses and drives the local economy. These events also showcase the fantastic outdoor activity offering we have in Ireland, and are hugely important as we drive recovery across the tourism sector”.
WMRA spokesperson Richard Bolt described the Donegal location as a “mystical, magical place, which boasts wild rugged unspoilt landscapes, and an incredible coastline with some of the most spectacular views in Europe.
The Derryveagh mountains are the major mountain range in Donegal. Commonly known as the “Seven Sisters”, each of the seven mountains have their own Gaelic names of Errigal (751m), Mackoght aka Little Errigal (555m), Aghla More (584m), Ardloughnabrackbaddy (603m), Aghla Beg (564m), Crocknalaragagh (471m) and Muckish (666m).
“Like its namesake suggests, the 30 km race route with over 2,134m of total vertical climbing, runs along the top of all of the Seven Sisters from Muckish to Errigal.
The technical course is renowned for its variable terrain and amazing beauty, along with a route that is very demanding on wild open mountains. The route also has many wonderful features, and makes this course unique in Ireland.
The miners path, Heart-attack Hill, Altan Castle, Mackoght with amazing views of Errigal.”
Several international elite mountain runners are expected to toe the starting line. These include US resident and Wexford native Paddy O’Leary who competed for Ireland in the 2019 World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships. Paddy was also featured in the 2021 film “Coming Home – Ag Teacht Abhaile” about his fastest known time attempt on the self-navigated 115 kilometre Wicklow Round. Formed in 1984, the World Mountain Running Association is the global governing body for mountain running and has the goal of promoting mountain running for all ages and abilities.

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