Adventure Races in Ireland

Adventure Races in Ireland

Up your game and do an adventure race. Your future self will thank you!

Put your fitness level to its limits and challenge yourself mentally too with an adventure race. Do it on your own, with your partner or as part of a team.
Ireland is a great location for these type of endurance events, which have sprung up in the past decade but are only really taking off now. 

Now, there are spectacular adventure races on around the Emerald Isle throughout the year. A lot of them kick off from spring onwards. Adventure races vary from event to event, from open-water swims to grueling 36-hour challenges.

About two years ago, I did Gaelforce West as my first adventure race. I was hooked. I then did Quest Achill, followed by Quest Glendalough and finally Quest Achill again in 2018. My friend and Irish Bootstrapper fan Richie Harte took place in the crazy 24-hour event, The Race this March!

Why do an adventure race?

Adventure races are not just a great endurance challenge, they’re also a perfect excuse to travel, meet new people and take in the views and terrain of some of the most scenic and iconic destinations in a country.
Below are some of the adventure races in Ireland. I’ve started with the three events I have personally done followed by more that I’d like to do in the coming few years.


1) Gaelforce West - Irish Bootstrapper

Where’s it on?

Galway / Mayo in the West of Ireland (Connemara / Westport).

And when?

This year: Sat June 22nd (usually in June). I did this race in 2017.

Personally what I liked:

    1. Being my first adventure race, I came in open-minded but also not sure of how to pace myself so I could get through it. I was finding it pretty ok until I reached the foot of Croagh Patrick. Psychologically, when you have done a good stint of endurance and then look up at a steep mountain knowing that you now have to climb to the top and back down, it has a “self-check moment” effect on you. Thoughts like “why are you doing this? Oh sh*t, you mean now I have to climb that too!?
    2. The views on the way up Croagh Patrick and along the route were spectacular. I stopped multiple times to take it all in, get some footage for the Go Pro and some snaps on the phone.
    3. I liked the fact that I didn’t have to get off my bike at any point to walk or stop from exhaustion. I did the race on my Mountain bike, with front shocks, disc brakes and hybrid tyres. Some participants had to get off their road bikes in parts as the terrain was just too rough and they may have damaged their wheels if not, while I was able to cruise by them.

More info on Gaelforce West here. Irish Bootstrapper on Gaelforce West 2017

2) Quest Achill - Irish Bootstrapper

Where’s it on?

Achill Island, Co. Mayo.

And when?

In 2019, September 14th (tbc). I did this in 2017 (Sept 9th) and 2018 (Sept 8th) .

Personally what I liked:

    1. The wild and bleak views of the Atlantic. Being on Achill Island is one of those true Irish experiences. If you’re a foreigner and have imagined “Ireland” but have never visited, Achill just might be one of those images you hold in your mind. Come and see for yourself!
    2. The first time I did this race, the weather was pretty good, which made it easier and more enjoyable. The route is pretty cool, starting off on the beach nice and easily and very soon moving into a quick steep ascent up the rugged mountain overlooking the Atlantic gets the blood pumping early.
    3. The after-party in Gielty’s Bar (Fancy-dress)! This really was a good night, with some well-deserved drinks and craic with all of the adventurers!

More about Quest Achill here.

Quest Achill 2018 Start - Irish BootstrapperQuest Achill 2018 Beach View 1 - Irish BootstrapperQuest Achill 2018 Beach View 2 - Irish BootstrapperQuest Achill 2018 Down Mountain - Irish BootstrapperQuest Achill 2017 Finish - Irish BootstrapperQuest Achill 2018 - View from Accommodation - Irish Bootstrapper

3) Quest Glendalough - Irish Bootstrapper

Where’s it on?

Glendalough lake and surroundings, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

And when?

In 2019, April 6th. I did the 2018 one on April 21st. 

Personally what I liked:

  1. The route - The surroundings here are very nice to cycle and run through.
  2. Great views of the famous and iconic Glendalough lake!
  3. The weather was sunny and hot so made it a bit more challenging.

Quest Glendalough info here.

Quest Glendalough 2018 Start - Irish BootstrapperQuest Glendalough 2018 Bike - Irish BootstrapperQuest Glendalough 2018 On Bike - Irish BootstrapperQuest Glendalough 2018 Bike Stage - Irish BootstrapperQuest Glendalough 2018 My Results - Irish Bootstrapper

4) Shamrock AR

Where’s it on?

Barrow Valley and Blackstairs Mountains in Carlow (South East of Ireland)

And when?

In 2019, it was on March 16th

What’s it like?

On over St. Patrick’s weekend in March, the event debuted this year! Spread over 8 hours, with teams of 2 or 4 navigating around the Carlovian Barrow Valley and Blackstairs Mountains. It involved a hike, a mountain bike section and some stand up paddling down the Barrow (river). How are your navigation skills? With this race, they’ll be put to the test too, as it involves “urban orienteering” and a fair share of reading the old map which some of the bigger more established races don’t really require. This is a nice difference and means you have to work a bit harder mentally and “geographically” to get to the finish line! Like most adventure races, teams need mandatory kit to take part – being a helmet, first aid kit and head lamps – at all times.

Learn more about the Shamrock AR event here. 

5) The Race

Where is it?

North West Donegal, Northern Ireland.

And when?

In 2019, March 23rd

What's it like?

What’s your idea of a perfect day? Does setting off for a grueling 250km unsupported adventure race over the rugged NW Donegal appeal to you? Welcome to “The Race”.
To finish the event, you must complete 15kilometres in a kayak, 166km on your bike, a 5km run on the mountains and finally, 64kilometres of trail and road traversing some of Donegal’s best terrain. And when we say “best”, we mean rugged! There’s a stipulation to finish the race within 24 hours. At the moment, this is doubts Ireland’s toughest endurance challenge. Are you up for it?

Find out about The Race here. 


Sign up for an adventure race today! The ultimate physical and mental challenge, usually in an epic setting!

We will have more blog posts and great content later about Adventure Races, ***watch this space***
And remember, Become The Journey - Irish Bootstrapper. 

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