Yes, Parkrun Ireland is one year old today, whey! hey! And I was at Malahide Parkrun to celebrate.
Parkruns are free, timed 5km runs. In this neck of the woods, they`re run at 9.30 am every Saturday morning and in six locations all around the country. Volunteers make the whole effort possible, along with sponsorship to cover the cost of setting them up and keeping them going.
Malahide Castle grounds is where they were first established one year ago in Ireland. So it was a first birthday for Malahide parkrun, and a first birthday for Parkrun Ireland too!
Luckily, the weather co-operated. It was a crisp, dry, chilly morning-perfect for running. The parkrun assembly area was suitably bedecked with bunting and balloons and everyone was out in their winter running gear.
What with the start of a new year and birthday celebrations everyone was in great form heading for the starting line and soon we were off.
Last week two hundred and seventy four runners participated in Malahide`s run, yesterday morning that number almost doubled. This made for slightly trickier conditions, especially for slackers like me. Overtaking proved difficult right from the start so instead I sat back, figuratively speaking of course, and just enjoyed the run.
No personal best then, though I was surprised to find I was only thirty seconds slower than last week, when I felt quite wretched throughout most of the run. Is it worth getting to puke point to notch thirty seconds of my time then? Well, maybe on occasion.
Heading off for the celebrations afterwards, I caught up with a delightful lady who was ready to tell her parkrun tale. She had high praise for the whole parkrun concept.
The fact that it`s free means so many more people can attend and there really is such a mix of abilities here from the elite, to those who truly struggle to run five km.
We agreed that the strugglers deserved as much credit as those who win. Nobody knows the journey so many of them have taken even to step into running shoes. That understanding came from our own personal running journeys, perhaps, as we both agreed that just a few years ago, running five km seemed impossible.
I headed on, then, for the celebrations in Avoca café.
The place was thronged-particularly the café – for it was here the first birthday presentations would be made. It was easy to pick out the runners from the normal Saturday crowd, of course and the place was abuzz with endorphin-charged babble.
My regular reader will know how much I love Avoca. I`m a big fan of their recipes, their merchandise and their whole look. And I was thrilled to see they had their luscious homemade scones on display. My performance did nothing to merit jam and cream, nor, indeed, the scone itself, but I piled them on anyway, queued for the till and was told
“You were in the parkrun, weren`t you? Well, the coffee and scone are on the house”
I`d heard the free tea and coffee rumour but not about the free food. And I am pleased to report that it was all the more delicious for not costing me a cent!
And take a look at that birthday cake. Doesn`t that look so gorgeous? Avoca supplied it free gratis too. No idea who took that pic but I pilfered it from the Malahide parkrun facebook page which you might want to look at here.
I`ve two fellow bloggers who are also big parkrun fans, though not just for the cake! Shaz regularly runs and smashes her 5 km PB in Killerton, Exeter.
And somewhat further south-Tasmania, to be precise- Unsportywoman helped Launceston parkrun celebrate their first birthday too.
None of these runs would be possible, though, without the wonderful volunteers who turn up every Saturday. And my thanks too, to the wonderful person or people who made Ireland`s first parkrun a reality.
What a massive contribution these people have made to the general wellbeing of a few hundred runners and their families every Saturday morning. Parkrun is one of the best news stories I`ve heard for a while.
Wishing Malahide and Parkrun Ireland many happy returns.