parkrun tourism: Holy Cross, Strabane

parkrun#257 event#63

Reason for visit: tagging on a Fathers Day lunch.

Latest addition to the NI stable, and much to the delight of alphabeteers, it begins with a haitch!

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Access:

The postcode given on the parkrun page takes you right there.  From Omagh, through the delightfully pretty village of Sion Mills, and at the roundabout as you enter Strabane go straight ahead, past the Fir Trees hotel.

Facilities:

There is plenty of car parking, but even though the course takes place in the College grounds, there is no access to the building itself.  ie NO TOILETS!  Remember the Fir Trees Hotel you passed on the way?  Time to pay it a closer look.  There was tea, coffee and biscuits on this occasion, and there is a Mace shop across the road which does hot deli food if you fancy something more substantial.

Course:

The start is a little way from the finish, on a wide tarmac path.

Round a cone and onto the running track, which is mostly gravel.

Up a gentle (!) slope behind the school, and back around to the front.

On the 4th lap you finish here.

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The running track is quite wide, so make sure you hug the inner path if possible, or you’ll be running more than 5k.  There’s one wee stretch where runners are travelling in both directions, so keep to the right at this section.

Crowd:

Inaugurals attract crowds, but the just under 200 runners today were very well managed by the volunteer team.  I was one of at least 4 people wearing 250 shirts, and I recognised a few other familiar faces.  There were a couple of buggies, but this is a NO DOGS course, due to school rules.

The best surprise was when Dame Kelly Holmes turned up with a film crew.  She gave a short talk during the pre-run brief about the programme she’s making, which looks at the benefits of exercise like parkrun, not just physical but also for good mental health and stress management.  She then started at the back of the pack with her go-pro, gradually overtook the field, giving encouragement as she went, finished as first lady and then headed back out onto the course to give high fives and words of support to those still running.  And then she happily stayed chatting and posing for photos afterwards.  What a wonderful inspiring woman!

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Gear:

I had remembered to charge my Garmin and earphones.  Sadly, my phone had failed to charge overnight, so I was limited as to what photos I could take, and couldn’t use the music/ headphones.  I had my new barcode water bottle, which kept my water refreshingly cool.  The weather was miserable in Belfast, but as I headed west it gradually brightened, and I needed my sunglasses during the run.  Road shoes would be fine for the surface.

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Time:

I was aiming for sub-35, and managed it.

Strangely Appropriate Song on Shuffle:

No music on my headphones, but I did enjoy singing along to the car radio and Birdhouse In Your Soul, which I haven’t heard in a while

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All My parkruns:

list of all parkruns completed

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