Hillsborough Forest parkrun

Throughout the UK parkrun has been paused during the Covid 19 pandemic, but they have recently recommenced in Northern Ireland (end of June 2021). And with the restart came a new event, set in the gorgeous surroundings of Hillsborough forest park.

Getting There

The forest is well-signposted from the village itself. It’s a popular spot, so the car park can get very busy – runners are asked to park considerately on the right hand side (what three words: interest.pointed.horseshoe). The main walk in the forest goes around the lake, but this is also very heavily used, so the parkrun route is on the far side of the lake, towards the playpark. Keep an eye out for the parkrun pop up flag! (what three words: volunteered.bump.sharpened) Hillsborough itself is just off the main A1 road.

Facilities

There are toilets in the village car park by the church, or in the playpark, which opens at 9. There is a coffee cart which opens around 10 in the car park, as well as a number of cafes in the town. Other options are the Sainsburys or M&S at Sprucefield, the latter having a particularly fine foodhall.

Route

It’s a 2 lap course, all on wide forest paths. The route is a sort of figure of 8 shape, with one large loop and one small one. There is a short section where runners will be going in both directions, so keep left there. The hill up to the back gate is a bit of a slog, but otherwise it’s pretty flat. (Emma made me edit this to say that it feels hillier when you’re running!) Running in a forest is always a pleasure, the air is so fresh and inspiring.

Runners

With parkrun not yet back in the rest of Ireland, it’s no surprise that this attracts visitors from far and wide. At event number 2 I chatted to people I had met before in Dublin, as well as visitors all the way from Tralee. NI regionnaires will also be looking to tick this one off the list. 115 attended the inaugural, with over 150 at event 2.

Time

I was timekeeper at event 1, and was tail walker at event 2, where my time was 53 minutes. (Hey, at least I’m making it easy for myself to go back and grab a PB!). It was my 100th time volunteering (come on new t shirt!) so I was able to add it to my events done. The course record is 16 minutes.

Covid stuff

To enable parkrun to restart safely, there are a few new procedures. The brief is VERY brief indeed (dogs under 11 on a short arm….), and timing and scanning is done via the virtual volunteer app. Sconning cannot be done from a barcode on your phone, sorry! Finish tokens will be deposited into a container and quarantined for a few days. No high fiving or spitting, faster runners start at the front, and try to keep social distancing.

All my parkruns

And while you’re here, do you fancy sponsoring me for the London Marathon? It’ll be my first one and I would be ever so grateful for your support 🙂

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/linda-harley6?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=fundraising&utm_content=linda-harley6&utm_campaign=pfp-tweet&utm_term=07b803adb4774068abeeacb8981721de