Up to 1,000 competitors are expected to take part in the annual Ballyliffin Coastal Challenge, run over one of the most scenic routes in the world.
This is the ambitious target of the organisers of the challenge which had its first run seven years ago with modest numbers. But those numbers have grown steadily year on year with 800 competing in last year's event.
“Its growth in popularity in such a short time has been phenomenal which is a great credit to the people that run the event,” said Irish Athletics Team Leader and Finn Valley Coach, Patsy McGonagle, who was one of the guests of last week’s launch of the 2016 Ballyliffin Coastal Challenge in the Ballyliffin Hotel.
“The route and the scenery is breathtaking and the fact that part of run is on the beach all adds to the attraction of the Ballyliffin Coastal Challenge.”
This year’s challenge is on Easter Saturday, March 26th. The run, which is over a seven mile course, starts at 1 pm in the middle of Ballyliffin Village with the finish on the beach.
As well as the main course there is also an optional seven mile course to the main Challenge for fun runners and those who wish to walk. This course takes in the equally scenic Isle of Doagh. The Ballyliffin Coastal Challenge run directors are Des Kemmy, Michael McLaughlin and Susan Mc Gonagle.
The Challenge has also been a huge boost to the local economy in recent years as pointed out by local Fianna Fail Councillor Martin McDermott at the launch.
“Events such as the Ballyliffin Coastal Challenge are a very positive addition from a tourism point of view and the challenge is another opportunity to highlight and promote the beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way, and in particular the beauty of Ballyliffin and the surrounding area, ” said Cllr McDermott.
”When you add in two world class golf courses and the famine village you have a brilliant Easter weekend family package,” added Cllr McDermott.
The event also includes underage races on the beach which have also proved popular over the last few years.
The entry fee is €25, Students €10 and each participant will receive a good bag, a commemorative T-shirt and medallion to mark their participation in the challenge.
Entries are being taken on www.visitballyliffin.com or alternatively by dropping them into Ballyliffin Post Office.