NI parkruns: Victoria

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Victoria Park in Belfast hosts one of Norn Irn’s oldest parkruns, though it’s had a bit of hiatus recently with ongoing improvements being made to the park.

I only realised on a later visit to the park just how detailed all the improvements are, and that the sign in the shelter is made up of lots of little photos of parkrunners – impressive or what!

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20140916_12531520140916_125320Some of my Jog Lisbrun friends like to do a bit of parkrun tourism once a month or so, and I agreed to join them on their jaunt to Victoria. The promise of brownies was an added incentive!

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Access: The park is right beside the runway of George Best Belfast City airport – in fact if the wind is in a certain direction, the taking off and landing planes are so close overhead that it’s impossible not to duck. It’s also across the road from Sydenham station, that “road” being the busy Sydenham bypass, below which an underpass leads you into the park. It’s pretty well sign-posted, though first time visitors can be a little unnerved by the back streets of red brick terraced houses surrounding the route.

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Course: Part of the park’s updating have included new pathways, with parkrun distance signs marked on the way. The course is one complete outer lap, one almost all way round, and then cross the bridge on to the island in the centre for a circuit through the trees. The shade is very welcome, though the gym equipment lurking in various leafy corners was rather spooky. There’s the teeniest of inclines as you turn the corner at the back by the Sam Thompson Bridge, but really, the course is delightfully flat.

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Gear: MapMyRun performed beautifully this morning, but my trainers felt tight, even though I re-tied them 3 times. Perhaps it was the fact that I was still wearing my ankle support. To be honest, there were no niggles at all from my ankle, and I feel I could leave the support bandage off in future.

Crowd: It was a BIG crowd! They often attact 150+, but since the closest parkrun at Ormeau was cancelled today, the numbers had risen to well in excess of 200. The park is able to absorb that capacity, though, there was plenty of car parking, loos on site, and not too bad a queue for scanning barcodes.

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Oddly appropriate song: In the week that my daughter was back home for her 21st birthday, and in the Park where we used to feed the ducks ( we lived in a house quite literally across the road), it was Annie Lennox singing “Precious Little Angel” that prompted a rush of emotion.

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Time: We’d started at the back, as the Run Director had said “dogs and prams start at the rear!” at which Mini barked her displeasure. But it was pretty easy to overtake, slotting into available emptier spots. The paths are nice and wide, with ample grassy verges on either side, so we never felt hemmed in. I quickly got up to a steady pace of around 5:20 per km, which would have been close to PB territory, but I slacked off after km 3, and my legs started to ache. And I’m really going to have to work on my finish – 6 runners must have passed me in the last 200m! But at 29:03 I was comfortably sub-30, and happy enough with that since I’m still not back to full training routine yet.

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Atmosphere: It’s a busy city park. There are still workmen finishing off the improvements, there are lots of dog walkers, and footballers playing on the pitches in the island. The highlight was undoubtedly one of the best bun selections I’ve ever had at a parkrun, including absolutely delicious gluten-free walnut brownies. Yum!

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List of all the parkruns I’ve completed.

One Response

  1. Visited Victoria again in January 2015. I’d been supposed to be doing sighted-guide training in Bangor, and was on my way there when I heard that it had been cancelled due to ice. Lots and lots of parkruns had also been called off, so there was a 245 strong crowd at Victoria. It was freezing cold – my wee toes didn’t start to warm up until km3. My “unexpectedly appropriate song” was Cool for Cats.

    It was cool for dogs, too, as I met lovely Sto, proving that Weimaraners can indeed parkrun – Max please take note!

    It was just 3 outside laps today due to a fallen tree in the island in the centre of the lake. Even though I didn’t feel I was running that well, I came in at 28:35, faster than the last time I’d visited here, so I had the lovely sight of the letters PB beside this week’s results!

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