IMRA Races Unshackled by Tim Murphy

Targeted for newcomers to Trail Running / IMRA

IMRA stands for Irish Mountain Running Association. It is the governing body of the sport of Mountain Running in Ireland. It is run by volunteers, on a ‘not-for-profit basis’. In a typical year, they put on about 140 events annually – primarily in Leinster and Munster.

Races recommenced, post-lockdown, in the Wicklow Hills on the evening of Wednesday 16 June, with a jaunt up (and down) Little Sugar Loaf. Prince William’s Seat followed on Saturday the 19th, with Scarr; Sorrell Hill and Brockagh following in quick succession.

The climb on these 5 races varied between 360-450 metres; and the distance was between 8.4-11 kilometres. Between 2-12 athletes from Sportsworld participated in each of these 5 races.

Over the two weeks, 16 Sportsworlders experienced at least one of these races. These races are for everyone. Of the 16 from Sportsworld 8 were female; 8 male. Age categories up to Male 65 and Female 60 were represented. Thus, the Sportsworld crew were a younger grouping than the wider field. Many were ‘first-timers’ to IMRA races. Some runners competed at the top end – there was a 2nd place overall (Karol ) and a couple of Age Category winners (Eileen and Liam ). Some had a ‘walk and talk’. Others took myriads of fabulous photos (Thanks Eoin). Some wore ‘trail shoes’; some didn’t. Some were carrying child (Congrats ); more weren’t. Some celebrated their birthday in the hills; others celebrated a mid-week escape from work. Some had sore legs the next day; some didn’t. Some wore the Sportsworld singlet; some didn’t. Some experienced glorious summer evenings; some experienced thick mist. All seemed to enjoy themselves. The IMRA website ( acts as a hub for bookings; event information; results; discussion; a beginners’ FAQ; photos and much more. It has many great features, and includes a ‘myIMRA’ section that shows all your results and photos and purchases. There are usually volunteers who take photos of the runners and post these to the website. Sometimes you get a great action photo, with a fabulous backdrop .

The Events tab is a good place to start. This has all the upcoming races that are scheduled for the year. There is a Dublin / Wicklow Wednesday evening race held throughout July and August. These start at 19:30. These evening races are typically 7-10.5k, with a climb of 200-550m. They are a great introduction to Trail / Mountain running. By clicking on the event, you get information re the race; maps of route / start point etc. There is also a forum where questions are asked / answered / volunteers looked for etc. Past results are available too. You can see an event difficulty rating too. The last race at time of writing was Brockagh. This had a difficulty of 7 (2 out of 3 for terrain (moderate) + 2/3 ascent (200m-500m) +3/3 distance (>10k).

You can purchase entry to the Wednesday evening races from the Thursday before, at 6pm. Places are currently limited to 150 and usually sell out. You will need to ‘Register with IMRA’ if you have never done so previously. This is an easy ‘one-off’ step. Just click on the ‘Register for IMRA’. Once registered, you can access the ‘Membership / Shop / Online Entries’ tab. This shows all the products / events that are currently available for purchase. You need to purchase an annual membership (€10), before you can enter an event). This will include a chip (if this is your first time becoming a member) and a bib number that will be valid for the calendar year. You will collect both of these at race registration, on the day of the race. You attach the chip to you shoe and retain this forever (€5 replacement fee). You also retain your bib number throughout the calendar year and bring with you to each race entered. Try to arrive an hour early for initial race.

Weekend races can be longer. There seems to be less than usual scheduled in Dublin / Wicklow this year, but many further afield. The ‘Circuit of Glenmacnass’ on Sunday 11 July is in Wicklow – a lovely route, but a challenging 19k, with 1,040m climb. As a rule of thumb, every 100m of climb can be equated to and additional 1k on the flat. Thus the ‘flat-equivalent’ effort involved in this race would be 19k + 10.4k = 29.4K. The shorter 13.4k Mount Leinster in Wexford has some Sportsworld interest already. Kerry / Limerick etc…for your staycation runs.

Wow… there is so much more to write but let’s not take all the fun of exploring away…

€7 per race. Great strength training. Great stamina training. Speed down those hills. Relaxed atmosphere. Less stressful on body than road running, in that the ground tends to be softer and the muscles that get worked are more varied. Good all-over body workout. Welcoming people. Wonderful locations. Sure to be some familiar faces. Sportsworld has an ‘IMRA’ WhatsApp group. E-mail to be added to it. Car pooling to event is usually available via Sportsworlders – mail or text the Sportsworld IMRA WhatsApp group.

A rain jacket is always compulsory – a face covering for registration area and first 200m of race is currently compulsory too. Any questions / concerns – feel free to speak to me (Tim Murphy) or e-mail / text Sportsworld. Can also ask questions on IMRA website / carpool there too (currently disabled re Covid).

P.S. There is usually also a short course option available. Open to all, but often used by families / teenagers.

P.P.S. There is usually an early start option that many Sportsworlders avail of. This allows you to start the race a half hour before official start time i.e., 19:00 on the Wednesday evening runs.You can decide on the day… just let them know at registration. Your race will still be chip-timed. This is totally optional, but usually only available to those who expect to finish slower than 160% of the winning time. By way of reference, for those of you who know me, I would typically be about 160%. Currently IMRA seem to be more relaxed on this rule now (to enhance covid-friendly staggered start).