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5 Great Marathons In Ireland Worth Training For

The Emerald Isle has some fantastic courses to run 26.2 miles on. Here are our top picks.

As with marathons in most countries, the list of the best marathons in Ireland 2024 includes some larger city marathons, namely the Dublin Marathon, which is arguably the most well-known marathon in Ireland.

The list also includes some smaller marathons and trail marathons in Ireland for runners who like a quiet, serene, or more isolated experience distinct from the larger Dublin Marathon.

In fact, for such a small country, the list of the best marathons in Ireland is surprisingly diverse in terms of the field size, location, terrain, and difficulty.

Below, we have rounded up our picks for the best marathons in Ireland. Most of these will likely be held in 2024, but not all of the dates have yet been announced.

Waterford Ireland.

5 Great Marathons In Ireland Worth Training For

#1: Waterford Viking Marathon

Now in its 12th year, the Waterford Viking Marathon has grown to be one of the most popular marathons in Ireland, and for good reason.1Waterford Viking Marathon is back for the 12th year delivering the best historic and scenic race Ireland has to offer, and the first Autism Friendly Run. (n.d.). Www.waterfordvikingmarathon.com. Retrieved June 10, 2024, from https://www.waterfordvikingmarathon.com/index.php/170-waterford-viking-marathon-is-back-for-the-12th-year-delivering-the-best-historic-and-scenic-race-ireland-has-to-offer

Runners get to enjoy the perfect mix of history and beauty while running through Waterford City, Ireland’s oldest city.

This historic Irish city was founded in 914 AD by the Vikings and is steeped with centuries of culture, heritage, and adventures that you can soak up for 26.2 miles.

The marathon is held in the early summer, with a scheduled date of June 23, 2024, so temperatures can be a bit hot, but the scenery, race atmosphere, and feeling like you’re stepping back in time make it worth it.

There is also a half marathon and a couple of shorter races to choose from if you aren’t quite up for a full marathon yet but still want to lace up your running shoes and tackle one of the best races in Ireland.

The Waterford coastline.

Runners get to tread the same roads the Vikings once covered while passing by medieval wonders such as Waterford’s Viking Triangle and remarkable landmarks such as Reginald’s Tower.

If medieval history isn’t your thing, you’ll still get what you’d expect scenery-wise from one of the best marathons in Ireland: breathtaking views of the River Suir and lush greenery.

After all, much of this stunning marathon in Ireland takes you along the Greenway, a scenic route showcasing the gorgeous natural beauty of the region. 

The full marathon course also takes runners along the grounds of Mount Congreve House, home to one of “The Great Gardens of the World.”

The trees and flora give you a living history of the past and present of Ireland, captivating even tired marathon runners anticipating the finish line.

Overall, it is one of the best marathons in Ireland and a fun adventure with a varied course you won’t forget.

Irish countryside.

#2: Dingle Marathon

The Dingle Marathon takes place around the gorgeous Dingle peninsula. The marathon course is beloved for the breathtaking scenery as it winds along the beautiful rugged coastline, with some areas affording magnificent views of the Blasket islands.2Welcome to Ireland’s most scenic marathon. (n.d.). Dingle Marathon. Retrieved June 10, 2024, from https://dinglemarathon.ie/

Over 17 miles of the course is right along the sea. The route also takes you through idyllic villages and historical sites. 

Once you have run through the cute village of Ballyferriter, you are treated to special views of Murreagh, before tackling some grueling hills. 

Although you’ll be panting after this extremely tough section, your work will be rewarded with sweeping views of the entire landscape. It’s by no means an easy course, but it’s absolutely one of the most scenic marathons in the world.

#3: Dublin Marathon

Cork city.

The Dublin Marathon definitely earned a spot on our list of the best marathons in Ireland. In fact, many people consider it one of the best marathons in the world.3Irish Life Dublin Marathon. (n.d.). Irish Life Dublin Marathon 2022. https://irishlifedublinmarathon.ie/

It is one of the biggest marathons in the world outside of the six Abbott World Marathon Majors, meaning the Dublin Marathon is very well organized and the course is filled with enthusiastic runners and spectators.

The Dublin Marathon is a great fall marathon with perfect running weather hovering around 50°F (10°C) most years.

The course itself is fairly easy, with gentle rolling hills and stunning scenery of the lush Irish countryside, complemented by the stand-out architecture of Dublin.

Another reason this is one of the best marathons in Ireland, especially for international runners, is that the locals are very welcoming of international runners to their city meaning great crowd support.

#4: Cork City Marathon

The Cork City Marathon is often considered to be one of the best marathons in Ireland due to the pleasant course, the friendly atmosphere, and the fact that it is a Boston Marathon qualifying race.4Cork. (2024). Cork City Marathon 2024. Cork City Council. https://www.corkcity.ie/en/cork-city-marathon-2024/

Ultimately, for runners in the UK or Republic of Ireland hoping to get a BQ time to head to the States for the oldest annual marathon in the world, the Cork City Marathon is a great training ground.

This marathon takes runners through the historic and cultural hub that is the city of Cork. The race starts and finishes on Saint Patrick’s Street, and it is one of the biggest marathons in Ireland in terms of participation.

What’s great is that there is a Cork City half marathon, 10k, or marathon relay as part of this festive weekend, meaning that all runners in your family or clan can join together in the festivities.

The marathon relay is becoming increasingly popular, as it is a fun way to participate in a marathon when you aren’t yet ready to tackle the full 26.2 miles on your own.

You can read more about the benefits and what it is like to be part of a marathon relay team here.

People running a marathon.

The Cork City Marathon route is considered relatively flat and fast compared to the other marathons on our list.

That said, because Ireland certainly has its share of hills and dales, there are some rolling sections, so what might be considered the “flattest marathon in Ireland“ isn’t necessarily pancake flat in the way you might find in other parts of the British Isles, including the London Marathon.

One great thing about this marathon is that there is a six-hour time limit, which is rather generous, making it one of the best marathons in Ireland for beginners.

You can run/walk or jog and still make it to the finish line in time, as a six-hour cut-off means that you only have to average about 13:45 per mile.

The Cork City Marathon takes place at the end of June so temperatures can be quite hot on race day, and while runners love this marathon, there are sometimes complaints that there are not enough water stations.

If you decide that the Cork City Marathon is indeed the right choice for you on this list of the best marathons in Ireland (it does have a lot going for it), you might want to consider wearing a hydration pack.

Irish coastline.

#5: Connemara International Marathon

The Connemara International Marathon (often just called the Connemarathon) is about to enter its 23rd year, growing in popularity each year since the inaugural event in 2001.5Connemarathon – Half, Full and Ultra Marathons | 21st April 2024 – Connemara, Co. Galway, Ireland. (n.d.). Retrieved June 10, 2024, from https://www.connemarathon.com/?RL=1

There are now about 3,200 runners that take place in the event every year, the majority of whom speak very highly and give raving reviews, calling the Connemarathon one of the “best marathons in Ireland“ if not one of the “best marathons in the British Isles.”

The Connemara Marathon is one of the most beautiful marathons in Ireland, and runners will get to enjoy the stunning scenery of the rugged mountains and azure blue glacial lakes.

The course profile shows that this is indeed a rather hilly marathon (with about 1,200 feet of net elevation gain, much of which occurs in the last couple of miles). Therefore, if you are looking to set a marathon PB, it may not be the best choice.

However, for those who want a challenge and aren’t necessarily looking to run the fastest marathon ever, the Connemara International Marathon has a lot to be excited about.

The atmosphere is very friendly and the beauty of Ireland cannot be understated in this particular Irish marathon course.

Ireish countryside.

Another benefit of the Connemara International Marathon is that there is a half marathon and an ultramarathon on the same day.

The organizers allow registered participants to switch distances, though there is an official procedure to do so. Therefore, make sure you look into how to properly transfer entries into a different event if that is your persuasion as race day approaches.

This means that if your marathon training doesn’t go as well as you hope, you can drop down to the half marathon.

This is one of the best beginner-friendly marathons in Ireland as well.

Despite the fact that the route is hilly and has some undulating twists and turns, there is a generous cut-off time of about 6.5 hours. 

This means that you can essentially walk the marathon and still officially finish before the finish line is taken down around 5:30 PM.

On the other hand, if you want to try one of the best ultramarathons in Ireland and you get the confidence through your marathon training that you are capable of going beyond 26.2 miles, you might bump up to the Connemara International Ultramarathon!

Did you find a marathon in Ireland that you want to train for in 2024? If so, check out some of our free marathon training plans here.

People running a marathon.

Honorable Mentions

Here are few more epic marathons in Ireland to consider:

References

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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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