The Dingle Marathon

I would wholeheartedly recommend the Dingle marathon for anyone looking to do a memorable 'destination' race- just don't expect to set a PB!

Dingle half, full and ultra marathon takes place around the spectacular Dingle Peninsula usually on the first Saturday in September.  The course consists of a Half Marathon (13.1 miles) and a Full Marathon (26.2 miles) and the Ultra Marathon (50 Miles) which traverse the spectacular Dingle Peninsula. 

This is a ‘must do’ event in one of Ireland’s must beautiful locations on Slea Head with the course designed for runners and walkers to enjoy its breath taking scenery and beautiful rugged coastline. This is the only day in the year when vehicular traffic is removed from Slea Head immersing runners in the natural beauty of the Dingle Peninsula on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Dingle town comes alive with an incredible atmosphere and good times guaranteed all weekend.  The Dingle Marathon is not just a marathon; it is the experience of a lifetime. 

Many seasoned international runners have described the Dingle Marathon as simply the best that they have experienced in the entire world.  The unique “Dingle vibe” is very difficult for me to explain but once you’ve experienced it you’ll never forget it!

Both the half marathon and full marathons start together from the scenic Marina in Dingle Town with all participants heading off together in the direction of Ventry and onto Slea Head.  The scenery is truly breathtaking with magnificent views of the Blasket Islands.

On leaving Dingle, participants pass over Milltown Bridge, past the woodlands at Burnham to the seaside village of Ventry where they get panoramic views of the long, curved strand of the stunning blue flag beach. 

On leaving Ventry the course continues westward, past Dunbeg Fort, and continuing with a sheer cliff on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other.  At Fahan the road crosses a ford where a water stream is magically redirected from the road to avoid runners wetting their feet!  This is the only day in the year that water does not pass over the road ford. 

The course then reaches Slea Head itself, marked by a stone crucifixion scene, with dramatic views to South Kerry and the Blasket Islands.  The course then follows the coast north, past the iconic Coumenoole Strand, where some of the filming of Ryan’s Daughter took place and on to Dunquin village.

Half Marathon

The Half Marathon finishes near the small village of Dunquin outside the door of Kruger’s Pub!  What better place to finish?  Half Marathon finishers take the opportunity to enjoy a well-deserved refreshment at Kruger’s Pub before returning by complimentary buses which are laid on to return them to Dingle Town to continue the celebrations and welcome home the Full Marathon participants.

The Half marathon are the proud winners of the ‘Half Marathon of the Year 2015’ in the Running in Ireland Race Awards.

Full Marathon

The Full Marathon continues north and east from Dunquin through to wild open countryside, moving inland to the village of Ballyferriter. The spectacular scenery continues to keep the spirits alive and once you are through the beautiful village of Ballyferriter, your journey continues on with some very special views of Murreagh.

A challenging part of the course lies ahead, with a tough uphill climb around mile 22 so be prepared to keep some fuel in the tank.  Once you have conquered this section, you will be at a point where you can see over the entire landscape, covering a long straight stretch before returning to the finish line at the Dingle Marina. The Full Marathon has a number of challenging sections but it is however a hugely rewarding achievement.

The Ultra Marathon

The 50 mile ultra marathon is an incredible route and is probably the most testing and jaw dropping 50 miles available to run anywhere in Ireland. If you do not run there is the 'Trad Trail' which is a fun way to see and follow local musicians throughout the various pubs in Dingle town. A massif 'Pig on a Spit' BBQ will also take place during the afternoon. There is also a powerful drum ceremony to add to the many musical and cultural festivities which will take place.

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Here are a few comments about The Dingle Marathon

The Dingle marathon is probably the most scenic marathon I have run, particularly the stretch from miles 7 to 11 which hugs the inviting western Irish coast. The medal and top were first-class and the crowd support, while sparse, was always warm and friendly (I was continually humbled by Irish hospitality).

In spite of the beauty, the course was very challenging with lots of tough climbs, particularly the hill from miles 21-23 (though to be fair, the last three miles were downhill). Do not expect a PR.

The water stops are also really spread out, but you're given small bottles to carry. I think there was only a single stop that distributed sports drinks (not counting the family that was distributing some on their lawn which was oh so appreciated)... would have liked to see more.

In short Dingle is a marvellous place to visit and provides a rewarding marathon experience. Just make sure to save some energy for those second half hills.

The Dingle Marathon is a fairly new one, so it is still small, with a mostly local, fun-run crowd. I expect it will get a lot bigger once the word gets out though!

The course is simply spectacular, starting out by taking vertigo-inducing Cliffside roads along the sea for about the first half, then turning inland through flattish pastures and over a nasty hill at around the 37k mark - after this, you get to cruise downhill to the finish. The race was generally well organized, although it could have used more water stations, especially ones with food or gels. The water stations also only had water, not sport drink. Also, the bibs were made of flimsy paper that disintegrated when exposed to sweat, so I had to run the last third of the race holding my bib in my hand. Since this is a rural course, don't expect hordes of spectators like you might see in a city (except, of course, for the cheering hordes at the beginning and end right in downtown Dingle!)

And of course, pre- and post-race, you get to enjoy the town of Dingle, which is very charming and has lovely pubs, shops, and people! Since the Marathon is on a Saturday, there is a big party afterward at the school which is a bit of a hike from downtown, although unfortunately I fell asleep after dinner and missed it.

I would wholeheartedly recommend the Dingle marathon for anyone looking to do a memorable 'destination' race- just don't expect to set a PB!

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