Skyrunner international series set for Dunlewey in 2019

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Donegal Gaeltacht Village Dunlewey is set to be the home of one of the five races in the 2019 Skyrunner UK and Ireland Series. 

The Seven Sisters challenge, which was held in July, has been included in the Skyrunner UK and Ireland calendar for next year.
The Seven Sisters are the seven high peaks of the Derryveagh mountains. Mountains include, Errigal (751 m), Mackoght (Little Errigal) (555 m), Aghla More (584 m), Ardloughnabrackbaddy (603 m), Aghla Beg (564 m), Crocknalaragagh (471 m) and Muckish (666 m).
Organiser of the Seven Sisters Skyline challenge, Eunan Quinn of Excel Sports, said he was delighted that the event had been selected of the 2019 five-race series.
He said: “For the Seven Sisters to be included in the Skyrunner UK and Ireland series is a big deal. Next year will see the first Skyline event ever held in the Republic of Ireland. The Mourne Mountains in County Down have hosted a round of the series for the last three years in October.”
“This year, the Seven Sisters was a marathon and half marathon. Next year, this distances will increase to 26k and 50k because the finish area will have to be moved,” he said.
The shorter race will take place on Saturday, July 27, with the longer challenge fixed for Sunday, July 28.
The participation in extreme outdoor sports is on an upward curve. And according to the Twin Towns man, the demand for events such as the Seven Sisters Skyline is increasing.
“This is where the market is going and it’s events like the Seven Sisters that people are looking for,” Quinn said. “These events also attract people to Donegal. Sports tourism and adventure tourism are big things in Donegal and this year was without question the biggest year in that regard.
“Close to 700 competitors took part in the Magee 1866 Donegal Wild Atlantic Marathon and Half Marathon back in July. But only a third of them were from Donegal.
“Those numbers show that there is a demand from people from outside the county to come to Donegal and take part in an event in a scenic area.
“Some people also holidayed while they were here and there will be others who will come back to visit again when they are not here to compete.”
He continued: “Sometimes you have to run the event first for the locals to see the impact it has. They’ve been overwhelmed by the positive effect it’s had, both on themselves and on their economy. We have the natural terrain and we were voted the coolest place on the planet in 2017, so that all bodes well for Donegal as a county. These are all positives that we can build on.”
“Next year’s Seven Sisters Skyline will get worldwide attention through the Skyrunning platforms and it’s my goal to make the event a world series race. If that could be achieved, it would see the best mountain runners in the world coming to compete in Donegal. There is an opportunity for that,” he added.
The challenging course is an out and back route which traverses 13 summits in total (Errigal once). The course is unique in that there are little or no tracks or paths, just wild open isolated mountains and hillsides.
The stunning skyrunning race route incorporates technical sections on either side of the route at Muckish and Errigal mountains.
Scrambling, ridge running, steep technical descents and ascents and a multitude of mixed terrain makes the 50km Seven Sisters Skyline with 4,000m of vertical gain a must-do event for all skyrunners.

The 2019 Skyrunner UK and Ireland Series gets underway with the Scafell Key Race in England on June 8. This is followed by the Lakes Sky Ultra on July 13.

The Seven Sisters is next in July, followed by the Snowdon Skyline in September and the Mourne Skyline in October.

Multimedia Sports Reporter from Derry currently repenting for my sins in Letterkenny. Recent journalism graduate. NUJ member.

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