World Masters Mountain Running Championship
This coming Saturday, the 21st annual World Masters Mountain Running Championships takes place in Clonmel, Ireland.
Words and photos Richard Bolt for the World Mountain Running Association.
While Ireland has had strong representation at World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) events for several decades, this will be the first time this unique world championships for athletes ages 35 to 79 has been held on the emerald island. As veterans of past world masters, it was the dream of race directors, Limerick based Tom and Tricha Blackburn, to bring the event to Ireland. On September 3rd their dream will be realized on the foothills of the Comeragh Mountains.
About the event, Tricha writes, “I am so proud to be part of the team that has worked so hard to bring the World Masters Mountain Running Championships to Ireland and especially to the historical town of Clonmel in County Tipperary."
Clonmel (Irish: Cluain Meala, meaning ‘honey meadow’) was founded in 1601 and is the county town and largest settlement of County Tipperary, Ireland.
Organized in conjunction with World Masters Athletics (WMA), the World Masters Mountain Running Championships has been the premier global off-road running event for thousands of athletes 35 years and older since 1998 when the championship was hosted by Kitzbuehel, Austria.
This weekend over 800 mountain runners from 29 nations will converge on Clonmel to test themselves against the competition and the course. Within each five year age category, medals will be given to the first three individuals and the first three Country/Nationality teams in all categories. As for the demographics of the field, 32% of registrants are women and the most well represented age group - age 45 to 49 - having over 150 particpants.
"I look forward too drinking a pint of Guinness after the race, taking in the excitement and buzz of a World competition and to see how I compete on a world stage." - Steve Brightman (United States) M50
As expected, the highest number of mountain runners are coming from around Ireland with 430 per-registrants. Great Britain is sending 123 athletes while 61 are coming up from Italy and 27 from the United States. There are more than just North American and European athletes coming to Clonmel with those traveling the furthest coming from Japan, New Zealand, Venezuela and South Africa.
Athletes 55 to 79 will run 8.4 km with 510 meters of climbing, while athletes 35 to 54 will run 10.6 km with 602 meters of climbing. Both courses started with a brutal 2 km road climb ascending over 200 meters. From there both courses turned off road over a mix of rough open sheep pasture, rolling forest roads and single-track trails. Near the end of the course the younger age groups ran an extra 2 km to Knockingadotha peak before returning to the finish line at the Holy Year Cross overlooking Clonmel. Each five year gender and age group will have separate starts starting at 10:00 AM on Saturday.
"The Romanian teams entering the races cautiously expect to end up with medals but are aware that the competition will be tough. The Irish do have a name for being dedicated sports competitors. Besides the races the expectations in the team is to be in touch of the Irish people, see green scenery, maybe rain and Guinness beer for celebrations." - Valeriu Rosetnc (Team Leader, Romania)
Some athletes poised to set the fastest overall times include Andrew Douglas (Great Britain - M35) who won the Broken Arrow Skyrace and is currently placed 54th on the WMRA World Mountain Running Ranking. Andrew recently finished 2nd at the British Athletics Up and Down Trials for the European Mountain Running Championship. Among the top women look out for Kathryn O’Regan (United States - W35) who finished 2nd at the Seven Sisters Skyline race in Donegal, Ireland; the first event in the WMRA Mountain Running World Cup this past May.
A full list of participants can be found at: https://www.sportsreg.ie/e/world-masters-mountain-running-championship-7885/entrants
"We hope that the athletes, families and friends traveling here from all over the world have a happy and memorable experience of our mountains, our culture and of the Irish people. We look forward to spending these few days together competing for our countries and celebrating our achievements creating great memories and friendships. Wishing you all the very best of luck." - Laura Flynn (Irish Mountain Running Association) and Tricha Blackburn (Race Director)
The race day start times are as follows:
- 10:00 - Female 70-74, Female 75-79
- 10:15 - Men 70-74, Men 75-79
- 10:30 - F65, F60
- 10:45 - M65
- 11:00 - M60
- 11:15 - F55
- 11:30 - M55
- 12:00 - F50
- 12:15 - M50
- 12:30 - F45
- 12:45 - M45
- 13:00 - F40
- 13:15 - M40
- 13:30 - F35
- 13:45 - M35
To get race day updates from the event follow the WMRA on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.