Hello, on September 23rd 2017, you’ll be organizing the Clew Bay Half Marathon. Can you tell us where it is located?
Louisburgh, County Mayo, Ireland is the location of the Clew Bay Half Marathon & 10k. This is across the island of Ireland directly from Dublin in the wild and free western shores of Clew Bay. The Irish or Gaelic for Louisburgh is Cluain Cearbán which means Meadow of buttercups.
Louisburgh is 15 minutes west of popular destination Westport and has an abundance of beaches: Old Head, Carrowmore, Carrowniskey, Thallabawn and more, with swimming, walking, surfing and all other related activities. It is the gateway to the islands off the west coast of Ireland Clare Island, Inishturk and others. It is alive with history, culture and tradition: archaeological, musical and culture. It is a place to go to unwind from the rat race!
How old is the race and why was it created in the first place?
The Louisburgh Clew Bay Half Marathon and 10K is in its seventh year. The event was created to address the need for healthy outdoor activities, to provide this voluntary service to a professional standard and to promote the area of Louisburgh to a greater audience.
What kind of route have you set up for the runners? How would you describe it?
Feedback on the route (the half marathon and 10k are different loops) says that it is a medium difficulty route and a very enjoyable run. It is completely rural and quiet. It runs towards mountains in the direction of Connemara from Louisburgh and then turns towards Killeen and across the Carrowniskey River and towards the sea. In the near distance you can see the ocean and islands as you run past a circa 2,000 BC wedge tomb or Dolmen (Áltóir).
Then you head back in the direction of Louisburgh along the route that Gráinne O’Máille (Granuaile or Grace O’Malley – Ireland’s Pirate Queen) would have traversed in her time, with the sounds of the Ocean in the background. The 10k goes in the opposite direction to run right by Carrowmore beach and up along Accony in narrow Irish roads covered in cowslips and whin-bushes. As you get to the top of a gradual climb the Clew Bay views and the mountain views in the distance are second to none. On a wet or windy day this is a tough run, but when the sun shines it is transcendental. A steep descent brings you to the Roonagh road where you turn left to face Croagh Patrick and run towards the end point. This is an event for all the senses to indulge where you have left the rat race for a breath of tranquility.
What are the distances on the agenda?
It is certified by AAI as half-marathon and 10K. AAI is Athletics Association of Ireland. We do this as a service to our participants and love to welcome competitive runners. But it is also a very social and inclusive event welcoming runners of all abilities and indeed walkers. We are also interested to hear from any participants with special needs and we will do all in our power to accommodate.
How many runners do you expect on Saturday morning? What type of runners do you plan to attract?
Our goal is to get the Louisburgh Clew Bay Half Marathon to 500 participants and to cap it at that. We don’t want it to lose its community feel. Feedback from participants is that some events are gone overly commercial and expensive. We intend to keep true to the west of Ireland welcome and community social aspect. We have had up to 230 registered and have run the event with as few as 150. Indications are that we will increase numbers as we know that the greater running community is talking about our event as one of the nice, well organised, good value and tranquility inspiring events. We are proud of this.
At that time of the year, what kind of weather can we expect?
We have been very fortunate. In Ireland you expect what you get. Irish weather is very changeable and therefore even looking at forecasts is futile. Last year, 2016, we had excellent conditions for running: lovely temperature, mild breeze and a little sunshine now and then. This was after the day and night before delivering a huge storm and rain. The event went off without a hitch. And the feedback was hugely positive. We believe that some people were deterred by the perception of the weather – but the event had perfect conditions. In the west of Ireland, forecasts can be misleading.
Have you planned festivities around the event?
Up to now we have treats immediately after the event – all voluntary contributions of mostly home-made goodies with tea/coffee and soft drinks. This will continue… But in 2016 many people were in the village of Louisburgh the night after and the night before. We are considering, after listening to feedback, having an after event in 2017. We’ll have to keep in touch to update on this but you can be sure it will be in keeping with Louisburgh, west of Ireland, and tranquility. A hint may be in the fact that Louisburgh is a haven of tradition, music, culture and history and a people that are proud of this.
The race finished, what advice would you give a runner who has never been to Louisburgh before? A good restaurant, a fancy sightseeing?
Louisburgh is a small village. 15 minutes’ drive from Westport. Restaurants in the village include The Derrylahan (bar and food), Ruddy’s (café/restaurant), and Country Kitchen (Restaurant/dinner). A 10 minute drive to the Ocean Lodge in Killadoon delivers spectacular views while dining (bar/food/restaurant). Other seasonal venues like Louisburgh 74 and Gaffney’s provide excellent options too. The Tavern Restaurant and Campbell’s are on the road to Westport beside Croagh Patrick and both provide pub and dining. In Louisburgh there are other pubs too: O’Dufaigh, Macnamaras, Teach na nOl, and An Bhun Abhainn. They all provide the Louisburgh experience.
Sightseeing is just overflowing. Go in any direction for sightseeing. When leaving to go home, maybe detour drive to Leenane – spectacular example of a flooded fjord and excruciatingly beautiful and historical views. This route is part of the half marathon route. Here famine victims walked to Doolough and perished on their return – a monument to their memory is erected. Bishop Desmond Tutu among others has walked in our ancestors footsteps here.
A drive or hike to Thallabawn to the Silver strand is majestic. The place is teaming with sightseeing opportunities: Croagh Patrick, Clare Island, Inishturk, Leenane, Ashleigh Falls, Old Head, Carrowmore, Altóir, Killeen… it goes on.
In a single sentence, what would you tell the readers of ahotu Marathons to make them register for the Clew Bay Half Marathon?
If you would like to take a breather, a break from the rat race – Come to Louisburgh and join us running in the wild unkempt natural beauty of the Louisburgh area. Meet our people, where the rate race is not part of the everyday, but it is understood enough to realise what we have here. Listen to the stories. Dance, sing, and relax, breath – be tranquil. Learn why so many have come here and continue to come here from year to year to connect with that which tends to get lost in the rat race. Read Mike McCormack’s 2016 newest international award winning novel Solar Bones in which he talks of his childhood (fictional) in Louisburgh – an experimental publication but some beautiful true impressions of Louisburgh living. It’ll give you an insight.
Interview with Tommy Morahan. Tommy is involved in the marketing for the CBHM&10K. He was born in the village opposite the town hall, second youngest in a family of 8. He lived in the USA from 1989 to 2009 when he came back to Ireland. Tommy works in sales in financial services and is married with 3 children. Along with this event he also helps out on the Louisburgh National School Parents Association. The school has 162 students. He is proud to be associated with the CBHM&10K in an effort to run a voluntary community event to professional standards, to promote health and fitness and to promote the area of Louisburgh.