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What does it take to run one of Ireland's biggest races - Kerry Group Rás Mumhan?

What does it take to run one of Ireland's biggest races - Kerry Group Rás Mumhan?

The Kerry Group Rás Mumhan has become one of Europe’s longest running road races. We reached out to one of the races organizers Mary Concannon this week for an inside look into this year’s race, from the route, to its history, its effect on the local community, and favourites to win it this year.

The race itself is run by Killorglin Cycling Club. Having been based in Killorglin since 1998, Concannon says “Ras Mumhan has been around since 1957, the race has been based in Killorglin and run by Killorglin cycling club for the last eighteen years and Kerry Group are the main sponsor for the past ten years. It is the most prestigious of the stage races in Ireland.”

The importance of events like these is how vital it is for local communities like Killorglin. As Concannon says “We are so fortunate to have Kerry Group as our sponsor as they want an event for the community, run on a voluntary basis by members from the community.”

Events such as the race not only boost community spirit but provide an early boost to tourism as well “a welcome early season boost for tourism and it showcases the magnificent scenery of Kerry and West Limerick,” Concannon reveals.

As for how it has impacted the community Concannon says “the race is now well known in European cycling and this brings visiting teams and their followers to the race, some of these people stay on longer after the race to experience the beauty of the area and some come at a later stage on holiday.”

The race is one of many important dates on the Cycling Ireland calendar. Concannon explains “It is the first stage race of the year and riders are eager to test themselves against the English and the Dutch.” Staging a race of this size requires hours of preparation and planning. “It involves approximately 7,000 hours of preparation,” Concannon tells us. “Pre-race we have around 40 people involved and on each day during the race we have about 150 volunteers.

The race is run on a voluntary basis.” Volunteers make sure the mammoth race runs smoothly, with Concannon revealing that this year’s route will be ‘long and testing’.

This year’s route is laid out in 4 stages. The first stage sees riders set off from Killorglin and towards Killarney, passing through areas such as Kilcummin, Gneevguilla, Scartaglin, Castleisland before continuing through Firies and heading back towards Killorglin. The first stage is called Sliabh Luachra and takes place on Friday the 30th of March, the following three stages will test riders as they continue through trying terrain venturing to North Kerry and continuing the race in South Kerry before finishing with a nine lap circuit of Killorglin and Beaufort area.

As for early predictions of winners, Concannon believes “Harry Sweering who came 2nd a few years ago (west Frisia) and Sean McKenna (Ireland)” will be hard to beat – “but I have seen the race won and lost on the final day on the Donal McKenna Circuit which is very fast.”

For more information on race routes, entry fees, history and more head over to https://rasmumhan.com.

by Aileen O'Leary

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