I talked about parkrun in my monster post last year on the future of Ireland’s health. It was started in the UK in 2010 and has spread around the world. In parkrun Ireland there are over 50 events every week. You may have heard it mentioned on Operation Transformation too.
The idea is incredibly simple. Every Saturday at 9.30am, you turn up to your local parkrun and do 5km. You can sprint, run, jog, walk or amble. If you sign up on the web-site, you get a printable barcode so your time can be recorded every week. A few hours after taking part, you’ll get all the stats by email.
We finally signed up 3 weeks ago and headed down to the Clonakilty Show Grounds - it’s behind The Boiler for all you West Cork parents reading this :-) The run is 4 loops of the grounds and the participants included everyone from out-and-out speedsters to people having a gentle walk or pushing a buggy. There is no pressure to “perform” and you can never come last, as they always have an organiser at the back.
The organisers are you. Every week it’s run by those who volunteer. I’ve done three runs now and it’s starting to approach the time I volunteer and do my bit.
Clon had 40ish people each of the weeks I’ve been there and it’s brilliant to see the Operation Transformation walkers out too. It’s an extremely welcoming setup where they do a shout-out to all newbies and all the “tourists” from other parkruns.
I’m interested in doing Ballincollig too but the numbers there are wonderfully nuts (approx 400 people!). We’ll delicately skip over the nonsensical situation in Tramore Valley Park that caused this.
I also really want to try Bere Island. I love the idea of getting on a ferry out to an island to do a run. But it’s a bit of a trip down the Beara peninsula to get there for 9.30am. Maybe when the mornings are a bit brighter.
Someone on Twitter recently suggested doing one in Bandon. I think this is a superb idea but with some logistical issues. parkruns are done in open spaces, not on paths or roads. So the options I think we have are (with the associated challenges):
- Bandon RFC - Everyone would have to be out of there before 10.30 when the crowds really start building for the matches/training. Only a problem in winter.
- GAA - Not sure when training happens here. It’s the most central with lots of parking too.
- Town Park - Would interfere with Saturday soccer. Also very little parking.
- Bandon Grammar - Not sure if the hockey pitch is suitable. And again, training clashes.
- Golf Club driving range - It’s a bit far out but it’s almost exactly 1km around so it would be 5 simple loops and people have been running there for years.
One hope for the future is that Castlebernard is mentioned in some very cool plans by Cork CoCo (note that’s a PDF) for Bandon. I don’t know if those plans are just ideas or have actually been agreed with the owners. If there was a riverside path out to there with a run around some new tracks, that would fantastic for parkrun and make Bandon a really attractive place to visit.
Any other suggestions for how we could do it?
So come on, overcome your self-consciousness and self-confidence issues and give it a go. You don’t even need a pair of runners or running gear. Come out for a walk and see what you think. Watch this old fart staggering around out-of-breath trying to break my Personal Best time and maybe you might consider a jog at some point in the future. No one is judging you, they are applauding you for giving it a go.
Say hello if I convinced you to try it :-)
Here’s Dawn Nisbet in the UK who started and never looked back. Her picture has gone viral.