Race Around Ireland 2009 starts tonight
Riders facing some of Ireland’s largest mountains in gruelling ride

The inaugural Race Around Ireland, which takes in some of the country’s most famous landmarks and crosses 25 major climbs, starts this evening at 8pm with the solo category. The Ultra Marathon Cycling Association World Cup Event is a 1,350 mile non-stop event that loops around the entire country.

The Solo riders will start at 8pm today, and the teams will start at 8pm tomorrow. The time limit has been extended by 12 hours, which means that solo racers will now have 108 hours and teams will have 132 hours to complete the race.

The race follows a format similar to the Race Across America (RAAM): the course is not roped off and there are no marshals controlling traffic flow. And once the clock starts, it won’t stop until each cyclist reaches the finish line at the end of the 1,350 mile circuit.

The race will consist of solo riders as well as four and eight-person relay teams. To be competitive in this event, the solo cyclist will have to stay on the bike for at least 22 hours a day, but in an eight-person team, each rider would spend about three hours a day on the bike, making the event fully accessible to mere mortals as well as hardened ultra-distance riders.

Confirmed to take part are ultracycling legend Fabio Biasiolo and the UK's RAAM record holder, Mark Pattinson. There are plenty of teams already registered that are not made up of professional racers: your club or organisation won't be alone if you decide to take up the challenge!

Like the RAAM, a number of Time Stations will be positioned around the course, set approximately 40 to 80 miles apart.

The course starts and finishes at the Civic Space Navan Co. Meath, which will be closed to traffic for both days and people are invited to come along and enjoy the music and entertainment. The Zone will have a marquee for entertainment including paintballing and mini go karting.

The race is one of the most gruelling and unique sporting events in Ireland and is the ultimate test of endurance, strength and mental toughness for elite and leisure cyclists alike. Some of the highlights of the course include Newgrange, Giants Causeway, Malin Head, Connemara, The Burren, Ring of Kerry, Mizen Head, Carrick on Suir and the Wicklow Mountains.

The race, a registered Cycling Ireland event organised in association with the Navan Road Club and the Irish Sports Academy, has been sanctioned by the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association (UMCA), who have placed the race on their International World Cup Series.