Clonmel Ireland Hosts World Masters Test Race & Press Event

Tipperary County community comes together to organize the 21st edition of this prestigious international mountain running race as it prepares to welcome the world in September.

On Saturday evening, 18 June 2022, international delegates, local community leaders, sponsors and event organizers gathered at the historic Clonmel Town Hall to kick off an official welcome for the 21st World Masters Mountain Running Championships scheduled for this coming September 2nd – 4th. This press event was followed on Sunday by the Great Irish Trail Runs, a test race on the same courses that will be run in September by the top masters mountain runners in the world.

Saturday’s press event was hosted by Clonmel mayor Michael Murphy inside the ornate wood paneled chambers of the Dutch Renaissance-style town hall dating back to 1881. Joining the mayor were several other community leaders who made this event possible including Tipperary County Councilor Andy Maloney, Tourism Development Officer Marie Phelan and Hillview Sports Club president Seamus O’Doherty.

World Masters

Michael Murphy – Clonmel mayor. Tricha Blackburn, race director. Photo: Richard Bolt.

“Clonmel is the perfect location to host these championships. It has a lot to offer with its history including our famous resistance to Oliver Cromwell 1650. Much of our history is reflected in our wonderful public realm including St Patrick’s well from the 5th century, Old St Mary’s Church dating from the 10th century in the historic heart of Clonmel. There isn’t a better place to experience a taste of Ireland’s great outdoors including the great Slievenamon [mountain], the Suir Greenway connecting Clonmel and Carrick-on-suir and of course our Comeragh mountains.” – Michael Murphy, Mayor, Clonmel Borough District

Clonmel (Irish: Cluain Meala, meaning ‘honey meadow’) was founded in 1601 and is the county town and largest settlement of County Tipperary, Ireland.

No race of this stature is possible without the generous support of local business leaders. Representing just a few of the many World Masters sponsors at the press event was avid mountain runner Micheal O Mullain from O’Flynn Exhams Solicitors based in nearby Cork. Charlotte Kitto was present to represent New Leaf, a health store and online retailer popular with mountain runners for carrying products like Colorado based Tailwind Nutrition.

World Masters

Wolfgang Münzel, Seamus O’Doherty, Michael Murphy, Marie Phelan & Andy Maloney. Photo: Richard Bolt

Bringing years of mountain running experience to the world masters in Clonmel were two honored guests; World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) technical delegate Wolfgang Münzel from Germany and Ireland’s own John Lenihan from County Kerry.

Wolfgang was a member of the WMRA Council for 27 years and one of the top mountain runners in the world in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. A contemporary of Wolfgang’s, John won the short course race at the 1991 World Mountain Running Championships in Zermatt, Switzerland; the only Irish man to win this championship in its 35 year history.

“In the name of the World Mountain Running Association and World Masters Athletics with their chairpersons Tomo Sarf and Margit Jungmann, I’m happy to send their kindest regards and to wish the 21st World Masters Mountain Running Championships a lot of success. This year the Irish Mountain Running Association is celebrating its 40th anniversary and isn’t there anything more important that honoring this anniversary with staging the World Masters here in Clonmel, Tipperary.” – Wolfgang Münzel, WMRA Technical Delegate

“Being here tonight is a little like coming home because I’ve been removed from the sport of mountain running recently but it’s great coming back here, meeting old teammates from years gone by and catching up. It’s like I’ve never been away from the sport. There’s something very special about the camaraderie of mountain running so having the World Masters here is massive for Ireland, and massive for the sport in the country, and I’m really looking forward to it.” – John Lenihan, 1991 World Mountain Running Champion

No event of this stature is possible without someone to germinate the idea, build a committed team of volunteers and run with it. Veteran participants in past World Masters Mountain Running Championships, it was Tricha Blackburn and Tom Blackburn who came up with the idea to bring the championship to Ireland and now lead the local organizing committee.

With support from the Irish Mountain Running Association (IMRA) led by president Laura Flynn, Tricha, Tom along with Edel Hennessy, John Hayes, Brian Flannelly and many more volunteers; the team was all in Clonmel this past weekend for the press event and to organize the Great Irish Trail Run, a test race for September’s world championship.

We are looking forward to meeting you all and offering you a warm Irish “Céad Míle Fáilte” – Tricha Blackburn, Tom Blackburn and the local organizing committee.

World Masters

Photo: Richard Bolt.

The Race

Sunday morning featured the Great Irish Trail Run, an event to challenge runners and an opportunity for the organizers to test their logistics and procedures prior to September’s world masters. Runners started in age group waves beginning at 11:00 AM from nearby the Hillview Sports Club before heading up to the trails and pastures overlooking Clonmel.

Just as will happen in September, Sunday featured two races; an 8.4km with 510 meters of climbing for athletes over 55 and a 10.6km with 602 meters climb for athletes aged 35 to 54. Both courses started with a brutal 2 km road climb ascending over 200 meters. From there both courses turned off road over a mix of rough open sheep pasture, rolling forest roads and single-track trails. Near the end of the course the younger age groups ran an extra 2 km to Knockingadotha peak before returning to the finish line at the Holy Year Cross overlooking Clonmel.

World Masters

Photo: Richard Bolt.

The fastest time of the day for the 10.6km course was 48 minutes and 25 seconds run by John Kinsella (M40-44) representing Bilboa AC from County Limerick. The top female time was 57 minutes and 55 seconds run by Lorraine Bolster (F40-44) representing Mallow AC from County Cork. 84 runners finished the 10.6km long course and 31 runners finished the 8.4km short course. The oldest finishers were Jim Patterson (M75-79) from County Down and Hazel Stapleton (F75-79) from County Waterford.

“It’s a tough course and I felt every kilometer. There’s good variation of terrain, a bit for everybody, so it’s a course that has parts that will suit everybody. Clonmel is a small little town and very accessible.” – Becky Quinn, County Dublin, 1st place F45-49

“The course is unbelievable, [Clonmel’s] hospitality is second to none and the Irish people are friendly. Putting the your countries singlet to me it’s the most important thing, it’s a privilege to represent your country.” – William O Donoghue, County Tipperary, 1st place M60-64

Photo: Richard Bolt.

“It was a lovely race; I ran and thought it was a great chance to race the (world masters) course. I’m not mad on roads but I love the mountains, the hills and I love going downhill. I find with the mountain running there is great camaraderie, the people are friendly and the views are fabulous.” – Majella Diskin, County Kerry, 1st place F65-69

Complete Great Irish Trail Run race results including finishers by age group and distance can be found on the IMRA website: https://imra.ie/events/results/id/2229

Registration for the 21st World Masters Mountain Running Championships is open now at: https://www.sportsreg.ie/e/world-masters-mountain-running-championship-7885
For runners under 35 years of age there will be an open race available.

World Masters

Photo: Richard Bolt.

More information about the 21st World Masters Mountain Running Championships including how to get there, where to stay and what to do can be found on the event website: https://www.wmmrch2022.ie/

Great Irish Trail Run race images by Richard Bolt can be found on Google Photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/vfj43V5q2zukn2Mg9

World Masters press launch at Clonmel Town Hall images are available at: https://photos.app.goo.gl/jsnqoSADYYtw53NA8

American mountain runners aged 35 to 79 interested in attending the world masters should contact Nancy Hobbs at nanohobbs@gmail.com

World Masters

Photo: Richard Bolt.

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