Sligo’s first-ever trail running festival brings a new adventure experience to the northwest over the last weekend of September.
The Sligo Trail Running Festival, which takes place from Friday, 28 September to Sunday, 30 September, offers guided trail runs through some of Sligo’s most beautiful mountain paths and wooded trails. It’s a great way for everyone, from casual joggers to avid runners, to beat new paths and have a bit of fun in the great outdoors of Sligo!
Along with over 60km of leisurely trail-running, the festival invites you to sip hot chocolate from the top of Union Rock, enjoy a mocktail while watching the sunset, and cool down with a yoga class at the base of Sligo’s mountains.
Sligo Trail Running Festival is the brain child of William Britton of Northwest Adventure Tours, a Sligo native who grew up on the trails. He’s expanded that love of outdoors into a successful adventure company, which takes groups out into the wild for kayaking, stand-up paddle-boarding, camping and mountain biking. He knows Sligo’s rugged outdoors possibly better than anyone in the area and has chartered some of Sligo’s most scenic routes for the festival.
The festival builds on Sligo’s fast-growing trail running community, built up and organised by Britton. Every week a group of runners takes to the hills, beaches and woods of Sligo for a social run, and the numbers grow each week. It’s open to everyone and offers a fun way to get outside and see new sights, often gaining a new perspective of familiar landmarks.
In the same way, the festival invites locals and those from further afield to experience Sligo’s abundance of beautiful trails and experience the stunning northwest from new heights.
The weekend has a very social bent to it, with a focus on getting outside and enjoying Sligo’s natural beauty. However, for the more competitive-minded there are plans in the works for a timed race, made all the more difficult by technical trails!
Festival-goers have the option of attending the full festival and staying at the lovely Riverside Hotel at a great discount or picking and choosing events to try. All tickets include transportation to the trails as well as refreshments, and every Saturday ticket includes entry into the Festival Hub! Weekend tickets include some funky locally-designed festival swag, too.
Friday evening of the festival brings a hilly 7-kilometer woodland run through Cairns Woods to watch the sunset, followed by specially-crafted cocktails in a local riverside bar.
Saturday is packed with exciting events, from an early sunrise run through one of Sligo’s stunning lakeside forests, followed by a tough mountain trek.
The Altra Festival Hub that evening will be a way for runners to take advantage of new trends in the trail running community. Altra are an American footwear brand with a growing European market. The unusual foot shape of the shoe and zero-millimetre drop makes quick converts of runners who like a bit of comfort! If you haven’t experienced Altra before, the Festival Hub is a great way to get introduced. The Festival Hub will also have workshops and panels from festival sponsors and local businesses Firefly Orthoses and RunPod, who specialise in running shoes and gait analysis. RunPod’s goal of building an active, social community through running perfectly matches the goals of the festival.
Saturday will wrap up with a dusk-to-dark run to Union Rock; keep fingers crossed for clear skies, as an astronomy expert will give festival-goers a tour of the night sky over a cup of hot chocolate.
On Sunday, the festival will culminate with a long run to the top of Knocknarea for panoramic views of Sligo Bay, followed by a coastal route and finally finishing at the Strandhill People’s Market. Runners are invited to have some well-earned coffee, sweet treats, and hot food, and stay to enjoy the fun and music.
More events and add-ons will be announced as the festival grows closer.
Festival-goers can choose from staying the full weekend with discounted accommodation, or picking and choosing from individual events. Updates and festival tickets can be found by following the festival on social media @sligotrailrunningfest or getting online at SligoTrailRunning.ie! And if you’re out on the trails, stay in touch by using the #SligoTrailBlazing hashtag on social media.