Sligo parkrun

Run number 296, event 80, celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary

One of my current challenges is to get on the Irish “most events” table, as well as a longer term goal to do all the runs on the Wild Atlantic Way, so we were spending a weekend in the Glasshouse, Sligo’s finest hotel, on a rather grey and overcast November.

Access

Sligo has a nightmarish one way system, comprising of various City Loops, that cause a visitor to be completely perplexed.  The sat-nav didn’t help, bringing us down a “no-through road” and requiring some rather worrying reversing in the dark near the fast flowing river.  But after about 3 circuits of the gyratory system, we finally found the hotel carpark.  I was concerned about getting trapped the following morning, so I facebook messenged the parkrun asking for directions, and got this very prompt and very helpful response:

“Hiya, if you are parked in The Glasshouse carpark, your best bet is to turn left at the exit, then left again at the traffic lights just past the main door of the hotel. Cross the bridge, then stick to the right hand lane as you go along the river. The road sweeps right, then up a hill, and sweeps right again & downhill. Go into the left lane as you come down the hill. The AIB will be on your right. Continue on Bridge Street, across the river again, then turn left along the river, keep going for about 1km and you’ll find us opposite Cleveragh Retail Park”

So I had no excuses!

Facilities

There is plenty of free parking by the play park, and more over the road in the retail park.  Toilets and coffees are also in the Westeroast coffee shop, which has a bit of Game of Thrones theming. Start and finish are in the same area, so you could leave any non-valuable belongings there.

Course

Don’t be deceived by the fact that it’s by a river, it’s much hillier than you might imagine!  Tarmac path all the way, just watch out for slippy leaves. An outward route for about 0.5km, then 2 laps around the playing fields before returning on the same path.  There wasn’t much of a view due to the low cloud, but I’m sure in brighter weather it is quite picturesque.  It is well marshalled at the junctions. 

Gear

I was wearing my green 250 shirt, which attracted some attention (and I was the runniest runner that day).  I’d forgotten my gloves and my zippy belt, so my husband had to take on handbag-minding duties.  Saw no other cow cowls. No watch or phone, and I wore my second-best red Hokas.

Crowd

There were 95 runners when I visited in November.  Sligo is a very sporty town, so there were some super speedy youngsters, as well as some walkers, so all abilities are made welcome.

Time

I spent some time chatting to marshals and other runners, so I wasn’t pushing for a fast time, but I did my trademark skip-change over the finish line in 41 mins, which was faster than last week, and I came first in my age cat!

Strangely Appropriate Song on Shuffle

I wasn’t listening to music while I ran, but I did join in with “Ireland’s Call” and “Fields of Athenry” during the rugby match that afternoon.

And the rest

We loved our visit to Sligo, lots of independent shops and old fashioned department stores to potter in.  We treated ourselves to buns from O’Hehirs bakery, which we enjoyed watching Ireland beat the All Blacks in the Rugby.  I can thoroughly recommend The Glasshouse, the food was excellent and the staff friendly and attentive.

lNI (and other) parkruns: summary list

Faskally Forest parkrun

Run number 295, event 79, attending the AGM in Perth

It was one of those days where “you don’t have to be mad to be a runner, but it helps!”

The weather was a bit dreich, but the parkrun weather fairy managed to keep the worst of it down to a light drizzle (I believe other events did not get off so lightly!)

Access

It’s about a mile outside Pitlochry itself.  I caught at 8.11 train from Perth which had me at the station just after 8.45, in plenty of time to warm-up brisk walk out to the entrance.

Facilities

There is (currently) a dedicated car park for runners, but it IS locked after the event close down, so make sure to move your vehicle afterwards.  A cute and clean toilet block is located just near the main entrance.  Start and finish are at the same point, so if you trust the “plastic bag by a tree” method, you could leave belongings there. At Your Own Risk, of course.

Course

It takes “undulating” to new levels!  The start is up a challenging hill, and then there are 3 sort of oblong laps, with a couple of uphill sections in each.  Lots of friendly and chatty marshalls at each station.  It is an extremely pretty course (if you can lift your eyes from swearing at the hills), but watch out for slippery leaves, mud, loose stones and tree roots.

Gear

Most Valuable Player award definitely went to my parkrun World Tourist rain jacket, in fetching aqua colour, which kept the rain off during my walk there, and also has a handy zipped pocket where I stored my valuables and tied the jacket round my waist. It even featured in the run report! 

I was wearing my new With Me Now T shirt, and the phrase “is it fancy dress?” on the back earned the response “well it was last week!” from fellow tourist Angus.  I wore my autumnal leggings, which matched the glorious colours of the forest.

Crowd

There were 47 runners when I visited in November.  It’s a relatively new event, so it’s still getting a bit of interest from keen tourists.  There’s a caravan site nearby so I’m sure it will attract visitors during the more inclement months.  As well as Angus from Inverness, I also got chatting to cow-cowl Colin originally from Crawfordsburn, though he now lives over the water.  There was a sizable turnout at the parkfaff café (held this week at the Pitclochry Dam visitor centre, but it’s not always there), where the results were processed at table extremely quickly.  My breakfast of smoked salmon draped over scrambled egg on a bed of spinach and potato cakes prompted much jealousy amongst those who’d only opted for a scone (they looked nice too, as did the bacon butties)

Time

I was taking it easy.  I’d been dancing for 3 hours the night before, with another 3 hours to do this evening, so I wasn’t going to risk a fall or stumble over those loose stones.  49 minutes, I think it was only the tail walking crew behind me.  But time is an illusion anyway.

Strangely Appropriate Song on Shuffle

I was running with no tech – neither music nor watch. “Naked” I believe that’s called. Anyhoo, I enjoyed the opportunity to chat with fellow runners and volunteers, and to hear the sounds of nature in the birdsong, the wind soughing in the branches, and the gentle ripple of water.

And the rest

It was such a joy to be back at an “in person” dancing event, even though the programme of dances was certainly challenging!  Meeting up with old friends, listening to live music, sharing in the joy of dance, it was all rather wonderful.

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NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

Oaklands parkrun

Event #78 run #293

Attending the With Me Now pow wow

With Me Now is a weekly podcast all about parkrun. It is presented by Danny Norman and Nicola Forward, with regular guest appearances from surrogate mum Bev, cat Dolly, various Ste and Steve’s, and many more. In jokes include “ Dolly or Bev”, describing things as “ arbitrary” when they are not official milestones or “things”, no context comments and random vegetable emojis. I’ve been a listener for a number of years, and have often had comments or emails read out on the show.  So when the get together ( or Pow-wow) was announced, for the weekend after my birthday, I did not hesitate to book my flights to Birmingham and a cheap hotel.

Access

The flight from Belfast to Birmingham is less than an hour, even though my car decided not to start as I was leaving the house, and I had to take a taxi instead. Birmingham airport is well connected to the main New Street station in the Bullring, and from there my Ibis budget hotel was a short 10 minute walk away.

I’d sussed out which bus stop I would need for the 60, X1or 2 the night before, but I was very happy when someone spotted my cow cowl at the stop and asked if I was heading for Oaklands. We gathered another pair of WMN hoody wearers, and our local guide made sure we got on the best bus and got off at the correct stop.  It’s very near the Swan shopping centre, where there is ample parking.

Facilities

The shopping centre has loos and coffee shops a plenty. For the post run parkfaff we took over the Costa, and I joined a breakaway group in the Subway right beside it, with Greggs also getting some of our business.

 Course

Three and a bit laps on wide tarmac paths, with a very slight undulation. I like 3 lappers, you can usually see where everyone is, and for slow runners like me you usually have the last lap in peace and quiet without being overtaken.

 Crowd

Well, what a crowd there was today! Normal attendance would be around 100, but the WMNers swelled that to 250. It was great to meet some of the names I’ve become so familiar with, as well as bump into old friends I’d met at previous tourism gatherings like Bushy Dublin. The volunteers did a fantastic job of keeping us all in order, with friendly cheery marshals and fast efficient results processing. Remember the days when you used to have to wait for an email about 5 pm to get your results? The virtual volunteer app is just brilliant, modern tech at its best.

Gear

I was wearing my apricot #parkrundancer top, but I was getting serious T shirt and hoody envy from all the delightfully personalised tops- Not Dolly, arbitrary, it’s a thing, cool down, warm down, fall down, lie down…. I need me one of those.  But what should my handle be? Good ole parkrun dancer? Wardrobe mistress? Potatoe? Hoedown?

I came bearing gifts- a moth cloak for “ forgetful moth” Nicola, which she absolutely loved and wore for most of the rest of the day. Danny had been specifically clear that he did not want any gifts, so I send him a picture of some Comber spuds to thank him for virtually volunteering at Comber ( his barcode number had been used in error a few times resulting in him being thanked for volunteering even though he’s never been over to Norn Irn). Oh, and a big thank you to the Master Baker, whose lemon hearts were just delicious!

Strangely appropriate song on shuffle

I didn’t have earphones in, it was much more fun to cheer and chat with fellow runners

Time

Having recently celebrated my 60th birthday this was my first time running in a new age cat. 37-34, faster even than Dulwich, and my best age grade in quite some time.

And the rest

I really enjoyed my short stay in the city, even though open top buses are not operating right now. But I was able to wander through Chinatown, along the trendy Gas street basin, visit the upmarket Mailbox, home to Harvey Nicks and the BBC, take a trip on a canal boat, and admire the beautiful library of Birmingham. And the super KittyCafe above the station concourse, which rescues cats and lets them roam around while you enjoy your coffee.

I’m still fundraising for the Smile Train, do please donate if you can, and let’s spread some smiles around the world

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/linda-harley6

All my parkruns

NI (and other) parkruns: summary lists

Dulwich parkrun

Event #77 run #289

Reason for visit: the London marathon, baby!

Access

I was staying with my daughter in Crystal Palace.  I didn’t want to redo that parkrun as I’d already done it ( twice!) and anyway it was cancelled that week. My alternative plan was to run Victoria Dock before dropping my bag off at the Excel. But IT was cancelled too! They knew that a lot of marathoners would have the same plan and didn’t have enough space for a safe event. So Jemima used her expert knowledge of local transport options, and worked out which bus I should get to arrive at Dulwich in time.

Course

This is well known as a fast course, and many parkrun records have been set here. The start and finish are in the same area, with the “ hang it on a tree” option for storing belongings. It’s 3 laps, wide tarmac surface all the way.

Facilities

There are loos behind the cafe by the bowling green.  I didn’t get a chance to try out the café but I believe it does good brownies.

Crowd

Usually about 300 or  so, there were 414 the day I attended. I did get chatting to a few other cow cowls, also in town for the marathon, but checking their what’s app to make sure their home events were running smoothly. A rather sweet grandfather-grandson pair were completing milestone (arbitrary) runs together.

Time

37:53, my fastest this year. But I’ve been focusing on long slow runs in prep for the big one.

Strangely appropriate song on shuffle

“I can’t keep up” by Silhouette

And the rest

Can definitely recommend City Mapper asa useful app for getting about by public transport.

Read all about The London Marathon

And you can still donate here

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/linda-harley6

Also see NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

Buncrana parkrun

Event #76 (trombones in the Big Parade), parkrun #280, reason for visiting – celebrating the return of parkrun Ireland, and ticking off all those Donegal ones that I haven’t even begun to do!

Access:

Instructions on the website are very clear – cross the river and take a left. There’s plenty of parking around, and loos. The Tip O’Neill memorial, and a fine large sundial, are nearby.

Course:

It’s an out and back route along the shore path. Don’t let that fact fool you into thinking it’s flat – it most certainly is undulating! Cheerful marshals at each point will make sure you don’t get lost.

It crosses the stunning Castle Bridge before a sharp right through some trees, currently festooned with motivational sayings. The views across Lough Swilly are just breathtaking, with mountains, sea, a distant ferry crossing, and the waves breaking on little sandy beaches.

Crowd:

There were 70 participants when I attended, including a few far flung tourists such as myself. I met up with fellow 250 T shirt wearing Ronan, and as we have both recently acquired new wheels, we spent of time doing “Well my new car’s got” Top Trumps. It’s popular with those who want to walk rather than run, so if you’re ever holidaying in this part of the world (It’s on the Wild Atlantic Way), and fancy an enjoyable stroll of a Saturday morning, you know where to come.

Gear:

250 top, leggings with a big zippy pocket for holding car keys, and my running belt is just too small to hold my new bigger phone. So much so that in order to take photos I ran the last 1km doing what I hate doing, running with the phone in my hand. Cow cowl, though I didn’t spot any others. Apple watch is still doing brilliantly at recording runs, sweat wristband, and of course my barcode wristband!

Time:

The course record is 16.20.

I’m still training for the marathon, so I haven’t been running this distance much. Plus I did stop to take lots of photos! So I was happy enough with a sub-40 minute result. I’ve no doubt I’ll be back some time, and can try to improve on that.

Strangely Appropriate Song On Shuffle

I do love Bryan Adams and “Run To You”, which is a good pace for running to.

All my parkruns

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

London marathon:

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LindaHarleyGillespie

This will be my first (and probably only!) marathon – if you’d like to help me spread some smiles around the world, your donation would be very much appreciated!

Dean Castle Country Park parkrun

Event no 75, (3/4 cowell!) parkrun 289

Occasion – picking up my new wheels!

Getting There:

On the outskirts of Kilmarnock, the rather beautiful country park is well signposted with brown signs. I was there to pick up my new car, which in turn had made its way from Edinburgh, and this was the closest location to the ferry at Cairnryan. (Note for future reference – there are parkuns at Ayr, Girvan, Troon, and Stranraer)

Facilities;

The start and finish are at the same spot, just right by the car park. The car park itself gets pretty busy, especially if there’s football on over the road, so please park considerately. There are clean loos in the visitors centre, which opens at 9. I wasn’t able to hang around afterwards for coffee (did I mention my new car?), but the visitors centre looks worth popping your head round.

Course:

It’s undulating! Feels a bit like a roller coaster at times, and the ups are quite steep – you never gain on the downs what you’ve lost on the ups, but these sharp gradients mean you really have to take care on the descents. The course is a Y-shaped 3 spokes form a central point at a rather picturesque stone bridge, done twice. It is really pretty, passing an animal paddock as well as lovely water features, and I do love running through trees, which are so inspiring. Can get quite muddy underfoot.

Gear:

My blue hokkas were perfect for the terrain, and my apple watch told me how my pace was. I’d asked the UK parkrun Tourists Facebook group’s advice on what top to wear – my apricot ‘parkrundancer’ that was a parkrun forever prize? Or my apricot with my home run, Wallace? My world tourist, or a With Me Now hoping for a “Dolly or Bev” shout-out? My 50 milestone customised with my first 50 events? or my running club T? In the end I went for the first option which was quite fortuitous……

Crowd:

I’d said Hi to the RD on arrival, and during our wee natter he established that I’m involved with the new event at Hillsborough Forest, and said that one of their regulars had run there recently. And he did indeed introduce me later! I approached a couple with someone wearing an apricot T, and they looked t mine to see where i was from. I explained it wasn’t my home location, but that my other main interest is Scottish Country Dancing, and consequently I do be in Scotlandshire fairly frequently. they looked at each other and said “I don’t suppose you know MK?” and I laughed and said, yes i did, she and I did our teacher training final together!

But the real joy was when someone came up to me as I crossed the finish line (doing a Highland dance style skip change step may I say), and I recognised an old face from Jog Lisburn, who I knew had moved to Scotland a few years ago! He’d shouted out “Go Jog Lisburn” as I was rounding the turn cone, but I had headphones on (bone conductors!) and hadn’t heard him. So sorry I didn’t get a photo with him, but it was so good to see running club stablemates in exotic (ish) locations. Here’s George posing with Cracker from a previous occasion. …

Time:

I told the RD I’d expect to run in about 40 mins, so there was no danger of me getting lost! With photo stops I came in at 40-10, which was grand.

Strangely Appropriate Tune On Shuffle:

Not while I was running, but while we were waiting to board the ferry (delayed because of ramp problems in Belfast) R was trying to pair my phone with the new car, and found the latest playlist i’d created, which was for a Scottish Dance class I gave over Zoom. The warm-up dance I’d used was “Prince of Orange”, and of course that made us laugh out loud and agree that the car’s name is Prince!

And the rest:

I always love little trips to Scotland, and this was no exception. We stayed in the Park Hotel right by the football ground, but unfortunately the ramp delays meant we arrived too late for dinner. But the very helpful staff had lots of menus from local takeaways, and i carb-loaded with some very tasty dirty fries. Hotel, parkrun and car place were all in about a 3 mile radius, so the driving was pretty straightforward. I’ll definitely take an opportunity to revisit, and try those famous pies!

All My parkruns:

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

And since you’re here…..

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LindaHarleyGillespie

This will be my first marathon and I’m absolutely terrified! Any donation you can make will be so much appreciated, plus you’ll be helping to put a smile on many little faces. Thank you!

Garvagh Forest parkrun

parkrun no. 288, event no. 74, completing Norn Irn regionnaire, and celebrating my parents anniversary

Commencing on 31 July 2021, I opted to skip the inaugural and instead attend event number 2. I also did a bit of “voluntouring” (it’s a thing) and asked if they needed a tail walker. And they were delighted to have me in this role! (See also Copenhagen and Jersey, it’s a good way to tick off a new run and also add to volunteer stats. Plus you get to go for a PB on your return visit!)

Getting There

It’s in a pretty central area of mid-Ulster, which means it’s 50 miles from everywhere! I jest – the journey from Lisburn took me just over an hour, and through such exotic locations as Maghera and Swatragh, where I haven’t been in years, but which have a charm and unchanged feel about them that makes me want to stay longer. Postcode is BT51 5NJ. There’s a very small carpark at the forest itself, so please leave it for other users, and volunteers who are transporting loads of kit. Runners should park in the church next door, but be warned the gates close at 11, so if you’re going into town for a coffee and bacon butty keep this in mind.

The start line is a good walk from the car park, so leave plenty of time to get there. What three words for the start is narrating.ignoring.barks

Facilites

The nearest loos are in Garvagh itself, well signposted and well maintained. There are various cafes in the town for post run sustenance and faff.

Course

It’s all on forest paths, wide and flat. There are 2 big loops and one final small one. It’s run clockwise, so most of the well signposted turns are to the right, but there are a few left hand turns around a twisty section, so keep your eyes open!

Gear

There were yellow weather warnings across NI, so I wasn’t too sure just what to wear! In the end I had on my long sleeved Jog Lisburn top, my purple volunteer T, and my second best Hokas. And of course my cow cowl.

Strangely appropriate song on shuffle

I don’t listen to anything while tail walking – you’re the eyes and ears out on the course, and need to be able to react to anything unusual. But I was listening to Classic Rock on the journey there, and singing along to Run To You.

Crowd

It’s away from the metropolis of Belfast, but there are keen running clubs in the Coleraine, Limavady, Portrush area who will no doubt frequent this as a nearby alternative (especially on a windy January morning when the tide is high at the Port….). There were 71 runners when I visited, and 83 at their inaugural. I bumped into some Jog Lisburn stablemates, and Andrew with “other Minnie”.

Time

I was tail walking at a brisk pace, so 54 minutes. The results themselves came through in super quick time, and I got my text at 10.39!

And the rest…

I arrived with flowers, card, non alcoholic bubbles, and some tapas style finger foods to wish my parents a happy 62nd wedding anniversary, where again the weather fairies smiled on us and we sat outside in the warm sunshine.

All My parkruns

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

Knockbracken Reservoir parkrun

My 287th run at my 73rd different location, in order to reclaim legionnaire status. Also Toby’s first barkrun!

Getting There

At around 8 miles from my house, this was a pretty close NENDY. It takes place at the Go Hydro activity centre south of Belfast, near Carryduff. (What Three Words admits.lung.target)

Facilities

There’s plenty of parking, several loo blocks and also a number of catering trucks and spots. If that’s your thing there’s also a McDonalds and a KFC just before the entrance to the site.

Course

It’s 3 and a bit laps round the reservoir, and is flat apart from one Hill of Doom. Slower runners will be overtaken by the faster ones on lap 2, so keep aware of who’s behind you, but they will have the 3rd lap to themselves. There is some traffic and golf buggies around, so again, keep your eyes and ears open.

There are lovely views over Belfast, and lots of wee (and some not so wee) flappy winged things by the water. I saw but failed to capture a teensy blue butterfly.

Crowd

I was there at event number 6, when there were 137, about average turnout. This still being The Great Pause, there were a number of familiar faces travelling from the south, and a good turnout from local club Lough Mossketeers. It was Toby’s first outing to a parkrun, and he behaved himself impeccably, allowing himself to be patted and fussed over without barking, and he didn’t pee up a marshall’s leg or similar. There were a couple of other dogs running as well, and a pram or 2.

Strangely Appropriate Song on Shuffle

I was actually a bit nervous at the start line, I haven’t run a parkrun in well over a year. I even had that bad dream last night where I was at a parkrun but had forgotten my barcode. But the Hamilton soundtrack told me to Summon all the courage I require, and to Look around, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now.

Time

Toby may have behaved sociably, but he hasn’t got Minnie’s ability to pull me along – in fact sometimes it was the other way round! And I did stop now and then to take photos so 38 minutes it was.

Full list

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

And while you’re here…..https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LindaHarleyGillespie

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

parkrun tourism: Crawfordsburn Country

parkrun #285 event #71

Reason for visit: New Norn Irn one I haven’t been to yet!



Access:
The postcode given on the site, BT19 1JT, took me straight to the gorgeous grounds of Crawfordsburn Country Park, though I did have the traditional argument with the SatNav, because I knew about the Sydenham bypass roadworks and it didn’t.  So Yaa Boo Sat Nav!

There are plenty of car parking spaces, but parkrunners are asked to use the lower or beach ones, leaving those closest to the centre for older and maybe less fit users.  We don’t want them complaining about parkrun ruining their tradtional Saturday morning treat.

The centre doesn’t open till 10, but there are clean loos down at the beach car park, a gentle jog away.

Crowd:

I attended event number 3, and there were 120 that day.  The inaugural attracted 246.  The RD was a recently elected MLA, and I chatted to him about an Alan Turing qute he’d used in his maiden speech.  The chap giving the first timers briefing was someone I knew from a recent work project.  And I was meeting up for the first time with the NI parkrun toruist gang. 

It’s a dog friendly course, but very challenging for buggies or wheelchairs (though I believe it has been done with a buggy!).

Course:

Ah the course.  It’s by the sea, innit, must be flattish?  Wrong!  It’s a single lap course which takes quite a meadnering route incorporating the coastal path. 

The verbal description was quite detailed, and in the past some runners have got lost and ended up in nearby Helens Bay! 

Start and finish are both at the centre.  At some point you run with the river on your left, later it’s on your right. 

Do NOT run under the viaduct.  And this is the only course I know of with a volunteer role of Lollipop lady!

It’s VERY hilly, and the downhill sections can be steep and twisty.  Did I say it was dog-friendly?  I think a mountain goat would be more appropriate!  One with a built in sat nav……

And I suggest there should be a badge or cerfickatick declaring “I didn’t get lost at Crawfordsburn Country :-)”

Gear:

For ease of recognition I was wearing my 50 events Tshirt, which of course is now 21 events out of date.  I do still have my cotton T shirt with a button sewn on for each event visited, though the Belfast patch is getting very crowded.

I had my lovely flowery leggings, my new zippy pouch, green gloves, and of course cow cowl.  My Garmin was useless, I really am going to upgrade it soon.

Theme tune:

I was running with no music, but I did sing “Let’s ready to parkrun!”, a variation of the PJ and Duncan hit, when I was washing my hands for 20 seconds.

Parkfaff:

The cafe for post parkrun cafe had a fabulous range of scones and traybakes.  I tucked into a warmed apple and cinnamon scone thing, which was served by some delightfully friendly staff.  I can see why this place is such a popular spot!

And the rest:

I’m writing this in the middle of March 2020.  The UK has just moved from “contain” to “delay” phase of response to the Covid 19 pandemic.  Around the world, parkruns in other countries have already been cancelled, including our neighbours in Ireland.  The feeling is that the UK will soon follow suit, so this might well be the last one I get to attend for a while. So as I was jiggy-jogging around the challenging course, I was thankful for the beautiful views, and most of all for my health, while I still have it.

All my parkruns:

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list