Irish Sailing and Mountaineering Adventure Challenge - The ISAMAC

Saturday 16 June 2018 - race starts at 6pm

The Irish Sailing and Mountaineering Adventure Challenge - The ISAMAC - is an adventure challenge race for crews of five from Kinsale to Dingle, taking in three mountains, two of them being amongst the highest in Ireland.

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Twitter: #ISAMAC-race

Download ISAMAC 2018 A4 flyer (pdf, 1.8Mb)

Interested in further details? email


To enter, please fill out and return this pdf - and ALSO pay your race fee using the big red 'ENTER' button above.

Early-bird entry is £300 per team, rising to the standard rate of GBP£400 on 1 January 2018 and then to a final 'late rate' of GBP£500 per crew of five on 1 May 2018.

The ISAMAC will start at 6pm on Saturday 16 June 2018 in Kinsale with a 12.5km ‘Two Forts’ running race in Kinsale. Crews then sail to Adrigole to run the Hungry Hill ridge, before sailing to Templenoe to cycle to and climb Carrauntoohil - Ireland’s highest mountain at 1038m. The final sailing leg is to Dingle, from where the runners will take the spectacular ridge to Mount Brandon (952m) and back to Dingle to the finish - in John Benny’s Pub. Rowing is allowed. Route descriptions are here

Teams can enter in one of two classes, the 'All Rounders Class' or the 'Runners Class': In the 'All-rounders Class,' every member of the crew of five must summit at least one of the three 'peaks,' with teams of at least two (and optionally up to four) required for each leg. In the 'Runners Class,' each boat has two nominated runners - these two nominated specialised runners must summit every peak. Additional support runners are not allowed in the Runners Class.

The ISAMAC has been created to take in the most spectacular sailing in Ireland - as well as its most challenging and iconic mountain landscapes. The mountain sections are the most direct and elegant routes, keeping runners off roads as much as is possible and practical, while making the most of ridge walking/running opportunities and views.


Race kindly supported by:

Kinsale Yacht Club

Sovereign Sailing Kinsale

West Cork Sailing and Powerboating Centre (Adrigole)

Templenoe Rowing Club (Check out the club's Wild Atlantic Challenge - 13 May 2017)

Finnegan's Cycles, Kenmare

Tom Crean's, Kenmare

Stepping Stones Bed and Breakfast, Cookie Monsters Cafe (at the foot of Carrauntoohil)

Dingle Sailing Club

John Benny's Pub, Dingle


Race outline

Start: Kinsale, County Cork

12.5km 'Two Forts Race' around Kinsale (any two runners from each yacht) - row to waiting yachts

Sail 130km (70nm) to Adrigole

Moor at Adrigole: Dinghy ashore, run the horseshoe of Hungry Hill (685m, approx 20km round trip - route map here)

Sail 100km (54nm) to Templenoe near Kenmare

Moor at Templenoe: Dinghy ashore, cycle to and then run up and down Carrauntoohil (1038m, approx 85km - 35km each way on the bikes (route map here), 7k round-trip on foot at the mountain - which is used by the Irish Mountain Running Association as its Championship route - we use the exact same route). Bikes are to be delivered to Templenoe by a shore team or carried on board your boat and brought ashore with you.

Sail 110km (59nm) to Dingle

Moor at Dingle: Climb Mount Brandon via the ridge (952m, 32km round trip - route map here)

Finish in Dingle - at John Benny's Pub!

Total sailing distance (Kinsale to Dingle): 340km (184nm)

Return leg, Dingle to Kinsale : 200km (110nm)


Fastest at the Two Forts Race in Kinsale;

Fastest on each hill leg;

Fastest aggregate of all hill legs;

Fastest on each sailing leg;

Fastest aggregate for all sailing legs;

Fastest overall;

Fastest all-rounder crew;

Best pre-race publicity effort;

Best race photograph;

Best race video;

Best race write-up/blog;

Oldest crew to finish;

Last yacht to finish.


Route descriptions

Two Forts Run, Kinsale (12.5km approx)
The race starts by the entrance to the Kinsale Yacht Club pontoons at 6pm sharp, with any two runners from each boat in the road race. Teams in the 'Runners Class' do not need to have their two designated mountain runners in the Two Forts Run. From the start and throughout the race, run with the traffic, on the left hand side of the road. Use extreme care when passing past the awkward corner at the Trident Hotel. Continue along the path next to the estuary and turn left to go over the bridge. At the end of the bridge turn left and run to the end of the road and past The Dock pub on your right. Pass by the barriers in front of the marina offices and when you cannot run next to the water any more, take the small path signed 'James Fort' next to the dilapidated shack (which could be yours for only Euro210,000). Run up the track to the fort and circumnavigate it clockwise (keeping it within arm's length will lead you on the shortest route around it). Retrace your steps back to the start at the Kinsale Yacht Club marina, (be careful if and when you cross the road). Pass the start and run down the road towards the centre of town, run around the road system, watching out for cars (the roads will not be closed). Take the first right hand turn at sea-level and following the sharp bend in the road, ascend the steep hill to The Spaniard (a bright yellow pub). At the pub follow the road aroundthe corner to the left and gain more height (and views over Kinsale and out toward Old Kinsale Head). Following signs for Charles Fort, 'enjoy' the steeply undulating road (look out for the 'Bulman' pub painted in a shade of deep ochre, and wave at any drinkers)). At the Charles Fort itself, cross over the wooden bridge and touch one of the wooden entry doors to the fort itself. Cross back over the wooden bridge and retrace your route back to the start, which is the end of the race. Your sailing time starts as soon as your second runner passes over the finish line (finish together, please!). 

Find your waiting dinghy, put on your life jackets and row out to your waiting yacht (unless it is on one of the pontoons).

You may proceed seaward under engine power at no more than 5 knots (gardai with speed guns may be hidden in the gorse on either side of the channel to ensure that there are no infringements of this speed limit). You are permitted to sail as soon as you pick up your runners if you wish. Engines must be switched off by the time Charles Fort is on the port beam.

Proceed to Adrigole Harbour under sail power alone.

Anchor in Adrigole Harbour (engines must not be used while runners are aboard) and send your runners ashore by dinghy. 

Adrigole to Hungry Hill
Your sailing time ends as the runners put ashore (at which point their run time starts). There is a five minute mandatory gear check. Run to the end of the track, turn left and run to the junction. Peg's Store is just up the road to your left, but instead take the right hand turn (extreme caution!) and proceed up the road: find your way onto the hill via a basic track. Ascend Adrigole Mountain, leaving Carbery Pool to your left. Ascend again to Coombane (510m) and continue along the rounded 'ridge' to Derryclancy (554m) and finally to Hungry Hill trig point (682m). Take in Cnoc Daod (667m) and its large cairn and then descend towards Gortnarea on steep and very tricky ground, trending to the right hand side of the ridge (away from deadly cliffs on the left) with the correct descent route shown by a 3m-tall stone-built marker-post. At around 300m altitude trend left over slippy and boggy ground to find the track at Coomgira: follow it to the main road and turn left. Run 2km to Peg's Store and take the next right, along the road and back to the track that leads down to the quay. The run time ends as you step into the dinghy and push off - at which time the next sailing leg time starts!

Proceed to Templenoe under sail power alone. For safety, yachts are allowed to use engine power as soon as the SW end of Illaungowla island is on the beam. Proceed at no more than 5knts to your anchorage spot.

Templenoe to Carrauntoohil (35km cycle each way)
Anchor off Templenoe pier - due to the shoal nature of the bay, you may have a significant distance to row in the dinghy. Put runners ashore - sail time ends as the runners alight, at which point their land time starts. There is a mandatory five minute kit check. Become reunited with your bikes (unless you have brought them with you). Saddle up, go to the end of the road and turn left onto the main road. Exercise extreme caution please: roads are not closed and local drivers can drive very fast and somewhat erratically. Cycle to Blackwater Bridge and take the right hand turn before the road passes over the bridge. Cycle via the Ballaghbeama Gap to Machanlawaun at the foot of Carrauntoohil. Padlock bikes. Proceed up the well-marked Kerry Way until you come to a fence line at a pass at altitude of around 350m. Follow the fence line right, ascending via Curraghmore (822m) and Caher (1001m) to Carrauntoohil (1039m, the highest point in Ireland). Return to Templenoe via the same route. Land time ends as runners step into the dinghy, when sail time once more commences.

For safety, from the anchorage yachts are allowed to use engine power (not more than 5knts) until the NE end of Illaungowla island is on the beam. Proceed to Dingle Harbour under sail power alone.

Dingle to Mount Brandon
Yachts must sail as far as the last pair of channel markers, just outside the entrance to Dingle Harbour (engines should be on, ready, but in neutral). Proceed into the inner harbour under engine power alone at no more than 5 knots. Moor-up as directed by the Harbour master and put your runners ashore. The runners should turn right along the sea front and proceed around 100m to John Benny's Pub for your mandatory five minute kit check. Your sailing time will end when the runners arrive at the pub, at which point their run time starts. When the kit check is complete, turn right out of the pub and run along the seafront back past the marina, to the roundabout. Turn right and go up hill until Dingle Firestation appears up a road turning on your left (take that left hand road turning). Go up past the Firestation and within 100m find the start of the rough track on your right. Proceed via Cnoc Bhaile Ui Shé (623m) to An Gearan (803m), Barr an Ghearain (840m) and finally Cnoc Breanainn (Mount Brandon, 952m). Touch the cross to signify your arrival, and then retrace your route (taking in all the peaks previously mentioned) back to John Benny's Pub, where your run time will end and you will be greeted by the rest of your crew (and everyone else) with huge relief and jubilation.

Congratulations - you and your team have completed the Irish Sailing and Mountaineering Adventure Challenge!


Route photos


Below: Kinsale Yacht Club - race HQ.


Two Forts Run, Kinsale

Below: The start of the Two Forts Run, from next to the entrance of the Kinsale Yacht Club marina. At the start, run towards the right!

Below: The route to James Fort, next to a dilapidated cottage that would cost you Euro210,000 to buy...

Below: A view from near James Fort, showing most of the route of the first half of the Two Forts Run, from Kinsale (centre of the photo) and over the bridge on the left.

Below: James Fort - Circle it clockwise (from and to where the people are standing in the photo).

Below: Charles Fort, Kinsale: run over the wooden bridge and touch the door - then head back to the finish!


Adrigole-Hungry Hill

Below: The landing pier at Adrigole Harbour. Hungry Hill is in the cloud at the right hand side.

Below: The view from Adrigole Mountain, with Carbery Pool just visible on the centre left. Hungry Hill is on the left.

Below: A critical scene! The view from next to the trig point on the summit of Hungry Hill, with the subsidiary peak (667m) marked by a cairn on the far skyline. Make for this 'peak' to start your descent.

Below: The lower part of your descent route off Hungry Hill. Only trend left once you have been around the less precipitous right-hand-side of the ridge leading off Hungry Hill, marked by a 3m-tall stone-built beacon. Adrigole Harbour is in the distance.

Below: Hungry Hill, from the lane leading back to the start. Perhaps this gives an idea of the seriousness of the hill...



Below: Should you need to hire a bike for the ride into Carrauntoohil, we reccomend this guy... Brian Finnegan at Finnegan's Cycles in Kenmare. Kenmare Cabs (Peter O'Sullivan, may also be of use.

Below: Templenoe Pier. Put ashore next to the pier (or alternatively scramble up the ladder on the end of it). Find your bikes. Ride up to the end of the track on the left and turn left onto the main road (Extreme Caution!)

Below: A view of Carrauntoohil (top in the clouds), with the pass and ridge up to Caher visible.

Below: The Kerry Way (left) at Maghanlawaun, which is the start of your running route to Carrauntoohil. On the right is the Stepping Stones B&B (and Cooky Monsters cafe - nice scones and ice cream!). Padlock your bikes to each other just down the lane where the cars are parked.


Dingle-Mount Brandon

Below: Dingle Harbour. The entrance to Dingle Harbour is on the right, and just visible are the channel markers. This breakwater shelters the inner harbour and marina, on the left. The ridge leading to Mount Brandon is in the background.

Below: John Benny's Pub on the waterfront at Dingle, which will be the start and finish of your Mount Brandon run.

Below: The start of the track (on the left hand side) at the start of the ridge run to Mount Brandon. The tower of the Firestation is behind the red car, and Dingle Bay is beyond.

Below: Final part of the ridge walk to the top of Mount Brandon (which is behind you on your left). Cloudbase was around 850m.

Below: The second half of the route to Mount Brandon (which is the furthermost peak on the skyline).

Below: The spectacular scene at the top of Mount Brandon. Touch the cross and turn around to retrace your steps back to Dingle!


The finish

Below: Inside John Benny's Pub. Have a pint. You've earned it!