My passion for trail and mountain running has empowered me in so many ways, both from a personal point of view- reliving my childhood days in the Afghanistan mountains- to exploring new cultures, meeting new friends, and generally having a great time.
Truly, mountain running can be a life-changing experience for everyone, and more importantly, anyone can get involved. Last September I participated in EcoTrail Wicklow 2022. Here are my top tips if you plan to go to this year’s event that will take place on the 30th of September.
1. The Race
EcoTrail Wicklow offers four distances to choose from, 19km, 30km, 46km, and 80km, catering from beginners to ultra runners.
In 2022, I ran the 30km which I absolutely loved. The trail goes through the most varied terrains incorporating climbing, grass running, forest trails, and rocky paths at the heart of the Wicklow Mountains.
The 30km race, like all the other events, started at the seaside resort of Bray, some 20km south of Dublin´s city centre. Following the shores of the Irish Sea, the trail hits the steep climb up Bray Head, which provides spectacular views of the sea, then up the Great Sugarloaf, and back to Bray Seafront to cross the finish line. My favorite part was the cliff path with breathtaking views over the coast and Dublin Bay!
2. The destination
The Wicklow Mountains are so close to Dublin yet a world apart with rolling mountains, extensive forestry, waterfalls, wild animals, beautiful lakes, and close to the sea. With its mild weather, Ireland is a fantastic year-round Trail Running destination.
Wicklow offers the largest mountain area in Ireland and has a network of trails that are accessible 12 months of the year! On the Friday before the race, EcoTrail Wicklow organizes a day trip to Glendalough.
Last year, I joined the trip and discovered the beauty of the ‘Valley of the Two Lakes’. The walk through the woodlands along the upper lake, past the waterfall, and up around the ‘glen’ with views of the glacier valley was truly spectacular. The beauty of this place is pure magic with animals like wild goats, sheep, and deer.
What also makes this place so iconic is the connection with its ancient history when visiting the 6th Century Monastic Site. The 130km long Wicklow Way walking and trail running route is also a fantastic option if you want to spend a few days on the hills and further discover the Irish culture.
3. The people
The Irish people make Ireland so special. I feel very fortunate to connect with such an inclusive and welcoming community with warm hospitality. EcoTrail Wicklow brings together like-minded people from different cultures and parts of the world that share a passion for trail running.
I was blessed to meet incredible individuals from the USA, France, Denmark, and the beautiful people of Ireland. The lively energy and great atmosphere will be the highlights of your visit. The palpable energy at the start line and the true Irish welcome at the finish line and throughout the weekend make it an experience like no other.
Ireland and Dublin are super accessible to the world. I flew from London Stansted Airport to Dublin via Ryanair, which is so affordable and there are various airport transfer options. Bray and surrounding villages have accommodation options such as the villages of Greystones or Enniskerry.
Last year, I stayed on the seafront in Bray and enjoyed the stunning sunrises and morning dips in the Irish Sea!
Don’t hesitate to stay in Dublin City Center if you prefer and take the train to the start line on the Friday to collect your bibs and on race day: it’s only 30 minutes away.
5. Eco-sustainable ethos
I am inspired by the core values of Ecotrail Wicklow, such as raising awareness about the importance of protecting the environment through trail running. EcoTrail Wicklow operates with no single-use plastic throughout the race.
I absolutely loved having the option to plant a tree and receive the EcoTrail Wicklow finisher’s mug instead of a medal: I use it all the time!
The core values of the race organizers and their partners encourage participants to be mindful of their environmental footprints while enjoying nature and embracing a more sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle.
6. The EcoTrail Family
There are various EcoTrail races around Europe and some beyond. In March of this year, I ran 50k at EcoTrail Paris, with its finish line under the Eiffel Tower.
EcoTrail Oslo and Stockholm are hugely popular in Scandinavia. Portugal has two races in Porto and Funchal. Geneva is up in June and a month after Wicklow, the Spanish EcoTrail in Valencia is happening at the end of October. Many participants get hooked on the event, and many travel to other EcoTrail events in iconic cities.
With Paris and Wicklow now completed, I am keen to discover the many other destinations. One thing is for sure though, even though I have already completed EcoTrail Wicklow, I can´t wait to go back this September again, this time with my family, and this time to enjoy another challenge—the 46km!
For further info and bookings on EcoTrail Wicklow, please go to ecotrail.com
New to trail running? Read our beginner’s guide to trail running next