NI Parkruns: Portrush

The parkrun at Portrush, on NI’s north coast, is surely one of the most stunningly beautiful courses anywhere.  It’s also one of the toughest.portrush parkrun 007

The run starts at 9:30, on the East Strand.  Travelling from Belfast, I like to approach Portrush along the coast road, past the white rocks beach, the Skerries sitting out on the sparkling grey waves, past what I still refer to as Kelly’s nightclub, and the Royal Portrush Golf Club, two very different sorts of entertainment venue facing each other across the road.  There is ample car-parking at the start of the course, with a good vantage point for any non-running observers to watch.

The course is an out-an-back one, run mostly on the sand.  Running on hard sand is very pleasant, but you have to cross a patch of soft sand in order to get there.  Even worse, you have to re-cross the soft sand on your return leg, at which stage your muscles are aching.  In the winter, when the wind is howling and the tide is high, sometimes even the hard sand peters out, and your choice is to clamber over rocks, or get your feet wet.  It’s certainly a character bulding experience!

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 I’ve run this course twice, once in May, and once in January, during a really unpleasant spell of weather.  I’d taken my rain jacket off while running, and the rain soaked my T shirt, causing it to stick to my skin.  Not pleasant.  In the colder months, gloves and a buff or headband are highly recommended.

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The turnout varies depending on the time of year.  During the balmy July holidays it can attract over 100, while in the winter the hardy regulars number around 50.  Many of them are very keen sporty types, who can often be found hanging 10 on their surf boards, over on Portrush’s other beach, the West Strand.  There’s a warm welcome to visitors, and as a tourist destination, these are in regular supply over the summer months.  My first run there had been on May 4th, Star Wars day, and there was someone in full Darth Vader get-up to celebrate.  That had also been my nephew’s first parkrun, which he managed in a very creditable 25 minutes, inspiring him to run the Belfast Marathon the following year.


Strangely Appropriate Song on my Shuffle:
 I was hearing the strains of Vangelis and “Chariots of Fire” recreating that moment where the Olympic hopefuls are training on the beach.  But this is definitely one for Daft Punk’s “Harder, Faster, Stronger”.

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Time:  You’re unlikely to get a PB here, even though it’s flat.  When I first ran it in May, I was still trying to break the 30 minute barrier.  And I failed.  When I ran it again, 6 months later, regularly sub-30-ing, I though I could at least better my previous time.  And didn’t even manage that, having lost valuable seconds scrambling over the rocks.

List of all the parkruns I’ve completed.