Several television networks are to broadcast the recent Trail World Championships organised by Run Connemara in a development which has been hailed as a major boost for the event.
The event, which took place in July, is scheduled to be broadcast to more than 100 million homes on close to 20 international networks including TG4, Channel 4, Eurosport, Premier Sports, British Eurosport, Eastern European network Kabel Teve, online channel Dream Team Television, South Africa’s Super Sports, Band Sports in Brazil, TEN Sports throughout Asia, and Setanta networks in Ireland, the UK, Canada, Asia, and Africa.
Indeed, TV coverage of the championship is set to eclipse that of events such as the Ironman championship, making the race the biggest internationally broadcast athletics event from Ireland this year.
Kevin Heanue, chairman of Connemara West Plc, a local development organisation based in Letterfrack, says the international TV response has been staggering. “There’s no way we could have imagined such a success,” he said.
The event came about through an innovative partnership between Galway race directors Richard and Paul Donovan and a newly formed voluntary community group in Connemara called Run Connemara.
“When Richard approached various stakeholders in the Connemara area saying that he could deliver a world championship to Connemara, we knew it was a no brainer, and our role would be to support him to pull out all the stops possible to make the event a success,” Mr Heanue added. “Co-operation was the key and together we decided to establish a new brand called Run Connemara.
“But such was the success of the race that global TV networks have been clambering to broadcast it. Over the past few weeks, we have been contacted with confirmation of broadcast by Channel 4, Eurosport, Setanta, and many more, bringing the event to over 100 million households across the globe.
“Indeed, the broadcast company on location, also responsible for Ironman UK and Ireland TV coverage, delivered the news this past week that the Connemara event will receive more broadcast coverage than those events because of the fact it was an official world championship.”
The race took place on July 9 and created a huge buzz, particularly in the Letterfrack area of Connemara, bringing 20 international athletics federations from every continent to the region. Elite international athletes had to cover a gruelling course of 70km, traversing Diamond Hill and Ben Baun mountain twice during the race. It was dominated by the French, who won both men’s and women’s individual and team titles.
“It’s a privilege to be able to bring a world championship to a region and this event is now going to put Connemara front and centre in the minds of trail enthusiasts around the world,” Mr Heanue continued. “We are delighted that Richard and Paul also received the Order of Merit by the international athletics body for their exemplary organisation of the race in cooperation with the local structures.
“We are also particularly grateful to Galway County Council and Fáilte Ireland for their support, as well as Forum Connemara Ltd.”
According to Johnny Coyne, CEO of Forum Connemara Ltd, the local LEADER company which also supported the event, “This race puts in place the foundations for future trail running events as a sustainable form of tourism. Critically, as trail running can take place all year round, the development of this unique tourism product can help redress the seasonal nature of the Connemara tourism product.”
The first showing of Run Connemara: IAU Trail World Championships will be on Channel 4 on Monday August 29 at 1.30am, immediately prior to live coverage of the IAAF World Athletics Championships from South Korea. It will also be shown during prime time on Setanta Ireland at 7.15pm on Monday September 12.
For up to date information on broadcast dates, check www.runconnemara.com