In the top right corner of Co. Louth, in Ireland’s Ancient East, lies the Cooley Peninsula. It’s relatively small area, but perfect for trail runners as it’s criss-crossed with trails and not crossed by any more roads than a runner needs to give them a good selection of routes and starting points.
On a sunny spring Saturday in April, we took on the Cooley Legends Half Marathon, a (mostly) trail race taking a great diagonal across the peninsula from Lumper’s Pub near Ravensdale, to Carlingford via The Long Woman’s Grave and Slieve Foy.
The race was superbly organised by local endurance racing legend Johnny McCabe and a great team, with slick transport to the start, well run aid stations, very good route marking and good marshalling. It’s also run in the right direction to make your last 5k the best of the views and a nice finish in the centre of town under some historic buildings. The race has a 10k edition too which shares the finish.
Besides being a great race, the trails it uses link together so that you could almost entirely eliminate the road, get on the open mountain, make it steeper, or make up whatever kind of route you fancy. You can link it with parts of the Tàin Way too, a waymarked trail that takes you around the peninsula and offers you a number of running options, great views and facilities at places like Lumper’s and the town of Carlingford.
More info on the Cooley Legends at https://cooleylegendshalfmarathon.wordpress.com/
Abouth the Authors: Kevin Duffy and Edel Kieran are runners and mountaineers based in the northeast of Ireland. They are currently undertaking a year of running and climbing challenges to raise funds and awareness for Pieta House, a charity combatting suicide and self-harm. The Cooley Legends was Challenge 6. You can find out more about their efforts at www.kevinandedel.com or @kevinandedel on Facebook.