Tag: parkrun

Kilbroney Parkrun Round Up

Kilbroney Parkrun Round Up

They do say the best runs come when you least expect it. Today I couldn’t fault that.

Caitriona had mentioned that she was down to marshal today at parkrun. Doing her bit and all that. She did ask if I fancied going but with a glass of vodka and diet coke in my hand as I wound down from a mental week of wedding madness and my legs recovering from a day in heels- yes I got doms after the wedding. There was no way I was getting up to run.

Of course I woke shortly after 8 and as I turned my phone on there was the snap chat.

Beautiful blue skies and parkrun?

I replied ‘meh’ however I’m sure Caitriona was having withdrawal symptoms as it had been 5 days since she last saw me, she insisted she’d pick me up in 20minutes.

I briefly debated it replying… sorry I’ve got the kids. Damn her goodness (potential madness) she said bring them along and they could marshal with her. So there was me jumping out of bed, sticking on my gear and throwing the kids together. Off to Kilbroney we went.

As we came over the hill into Rostrevor I was able to explain to Caitriona where my escapades during the walking festival went. Pulling up to Kilbroney we had a few minutes before starting.

I absolutely detest 5ks. Give me a half marathon anyday. Yet even I couldn’t have faulted the weather, atmosphere and stunning surroundings. Kilbroney parkrun offers everything. A challanging route, well supported by marshals and other public users of the park and breathtaking scenery as you weave in and out of lush greenways, riverside track, woodland and through Narnia-twice. Ok there are 2 hills but it adds to the challange and makes finishing that bit sweeter.

I’ve a Rostrevor parkrun personal best of 38.06. As I took off lap 1, pace was strong as the field spread out. Smiles and encouragement from marshals and also those staying in the caravan park. Before the descent into Narnia I was greeted by the personal cheer squad and made the resolve that I was going to push on and not let the next lap beat me. I crossed the start line in 18mins dead. I was delighted that for once I wasn’t lapped by the winner!

So realistically if I kept the same pace this lap, I’d blow my PB out of the water but without the field pulling me the first km I went back to my usual chanting and focused on my breathing to get me to the next hill. I didn’t get as far up it as I would have liked but with only a short uphill to go I knew I would do myself justice on the downhill.

I also knew that Rónán would be asking to run with me when I met him and as I opened up on the downhill I shouted for him to join me and the little ginger head took off in usual fashion and I chased him right into Narnia. As we turned the corner to the finishing straight he was in full flight and me too. Together watching eachother we emptied the tank taking the person in front and finishing neck in neck.

Some people do say you should let the child win. But he’s beaten me so many times I needed the victory of the final half kilometre.

I looked down to see 36.51. A new personal best by over 1 minute. Can’t be bad to that and for the record slightly hungover and definitely not in racing shape.

That’s the thing about parkrun though. It’s not a race. It’s a community event for everyone to join in and set themselves a goal. I always welcome getting new bests, who doesn’t? Yet the only pressure you have is yourself. Today for me though it was a gentle nudge from the running buddy who either knew I needed a good run, knew I was fit to do myself justice or just plain mean and wanted to laugh at me running. Either way… thank you Caitriona for getting me to run this morning and also for marshalling. Without the volunteers, parkrun wouldn’t happen.

Also want to draw your attention to another local event for both runners and walkers alike for a very worth while cause. Will be a fantastic way to spend a Saturday evening with friends and family.

And don’t forget to keep voting! 


I am no longer a Parkrun Virgin!

I am no longer a Parkrun Virgin!

There comes a time in every runners life when you just have to let it go. Over the past year I have ran every distance from 5k to Marathon and still held onto the fact I’d never ran a Parkrun. I wasn’t willing to just let any Parkrun be my first. I had flirted with going to Lisburn or Belfast to break my Parkrun virginity but with word on the street that a team was working hard in Kilbroney, Rostrevor, to bring Parkrun nearer to home, I held off waiting and hoping it would be the perfect one for me.

Low and behold the promise of Parkrun coming to Kilbroney materialised and under the wing of “Race Director” Dermot Mathers (why does he keep stalking me and my life I’ll never know) last week saw over 130 participants take to the trails of Kilbroney to mark the inaugural Parkrun.

Sadly I missed out on it as was busy learning how to save lives in case I ever come across a runner in need of more than hug. So clearly on the calendar I had marked this weeks Parkrun as a must.

It was an unseasonably mild December morning and as we left the confines of our cosy home in Castlewellan to make our way to Rostrevor, we had no idea what lay ahead. I have encountered Kilbroney a few times over the year in various races, so I was under no illusion that it was going to be a flat and monotonous course.

Over 100 parkrunners took to the start line and before we knew it we were off.

As we set off towards Fairy Glen, the sea of runners stretched the length of the path. As a 2 lap course my aim was simply not to be over taken by the front runner. It was great to have Caitriona back out running and keeping me right. She even requested for me to sing which is usually the reason she lets me run on as she doesn’t want to hear me. A rendition of Jiggle Bells was soon cut short as we approached the first hill.

As we climbed up through the twisty gravel track we were able to gain a place or two. Met by a lovely and very positive volunteer who directed us on up another hill. At this point on the loop the other runners came down the other side and spotting Michael with those who I assumed where in around the mid 20s, I knew that the front runners wouldn’t be too far behind me.

It was a relief to see the second hill end and know it was all downhill from there. As we came in through the caravan park, we where greeted by the Narnia Trail Door and like little fairies we ran through the woods towards the start again.

I could have easily stopped after 1 lap but as I crossed the line for the 2nd lap I spotted Don Travers coming across the finish and although I had made it a lap (just about) without being lapped, I know next time to get my ass moving a bit quicker!

The second lap didn’t have the fear of the unknown. You knew where to push yourself and where you needed to contain your energy. I’m still trying to figure out if that’s a good thing or not but I enjoyed the second lap more even if I did shed a tear as couldn’t shake off a niggle. I was able to take in the surrounding mountains that tower over the forest, listen to the leaves crunching under feet and appreciate my procrastination on the last hill that bit more.

It was exciting to come back down through Narnia, though it was more like a heard of elephants than a collection of fairies. The end was near and everyone knew it. Getting to the finish and smoothly going through the post parkrun motions, I was finally not a Parkrun Virgin anymore.

I have to give a shout out to all the volunteers, from the moment we arrived they where on hand to help with informing you about what is happening, what the route was and keeping you in the craic. Nothing beats fun and laughter first thing on a Saturday morning. Through out the course they were very encouraging and also empathy was aplenty as probably runners themselves, they knew the story that our faces told. We were treated to cake and sweets afterwards which was a fantastic surprise and finished the event off lovely.

It was great to see 6 of the Murlough crowd making the Parkrun also, well there where 5 until we realised Michael had decided to tackle a 3rd lap as punishment for that 3rd helping of Jameson last night, as that’s what sane people do obviously.

So Parkrun done and home for 11am. So this is what everyone raves about…I totally get it!

So was it worth waiting for the right Parkrun to be my first, definitely! I couldn’t have picked a more scenic yet challenging route. It was also helped by the fact that the weather was perfect and the seasonal changes in the surroundings added to the beauty. I just love running in the forest even if it does mean that I am faced with some “mild” elevation.

I will definitely be back and think if you are still waiting to pop your parkrun cherry, this is the one to do it. Friendly volunteers, great route, a few wee challenges to wake you up and plenty of fellow parkrunners ready to share their Saturday morning with you.