Carrickfergus 260119

Facilities

There is a large car park next to this park, but there is also a sports centre next to the car park so demand for spaces is high. Arrive early to secure a spot. There is a train to Carrickfergus from Belfast however, which arrives into a very pretty little train station, and a bus service also. There are no changing facilities available, but there are toilets in the sports centre next to the car park.

Course

This is a three lap course which goes in and around the park. The route is entirely paved, though paths are narrow and you may need to do a little bit of running on the grass verge if it gets congested. The course is mostly flat save for a short pinch about halfway through the lap. The many twists and turns along the route can be slightly confusing the first time around, but there are marshals on duty to show you the way, and yellow markers painted on the path. The park itself has many interesting features like a small pond and a bowling green.

Coffee

There is a cafe in the sports centre where parkrunners gather after the run for a coffee.

X Factor

I could not write this post without mentioning the song Carrickfergus, which I’m sure has made many’s the Irish emigrant shed a tear or two over the years. I believe that nobody knows who wrote the song, and there is even some doubt that it refers to Carrickfergus in County Antrim, but it is nice to think that there is some connection. There is also a very impressive castle in Carrickfergus, which is worth a look.

Larne 190119

Facilities

This parkrun is on the outskirts of Larne town and despite the relatively rural location there is a bus service that passes by the park which will get you there from Larne town by 9:30 in the morning. Otherwise, there is a large car park next to the start line. There are public toilets in the car park but there are no changing facilities.

Course

This is a lollipop shaped course, with an out section to begin with, then two laps of the course loop, and then back to the start. The entire route is paved but this is a hilly one with many hairpins and chicanes so this is not the parkrun to attempt a PB. The varied route does make for a fun run, however, with lots of distractions along the way, including a miniature railway which was my favourite. The park is very nice, with a walled garden and a lot of nice trees and hedgerows, plus the park is located on the coast so there are some nice views out to sea along the run. However, the coastal location does mean wind, so wrap up well on those wintry days.

Coffee

Coffee is available in the hall that is kindly made available by the sea cadets.

X Factor

Because of the many twists and turns on this route there are many signs to erect every Saturday morning and many marshals needed to show parkrunners where to go. The large effort required to host this run is very impressive and much appreciated.

Colin Glen 120119

Facilities

There is a small car park available at this parkrun, but it fills up quickly before the run so I would recommend getting to the run via other means. Public transport is a great option, with many local buses including the Glider bus service. Toilets are available in the community centre next to the car park, but no changing facilities.

Course

There’s no sugar coating that this is a very tough course. It is very hilly with many undulations throughout the run; but that just adds to the fun. The entire route is paved, and this being a forest park is very sheltered also. There are lots of different paths in the park but in order to keep on the route just follow the yellow arrows, and importantly, remember to do two laps of the pond, not just one. You’ll see when you get there. The park is almost entirely woodland, meaning it is quite enclosed. I like this as it means seeing something new every time you turn a corner.

Coffee

Coffee is had in the community centre after the run, a good opportunity to catch your breath and have a chat after the run.

X Factor

There is a lot of signage around the park which gives a good history of the place. This park was totally transformed by a huge community effort in the 90s I believe, from a wasteground to the thriving woodland it is today. It is now a fantastic resource for people of the area with many activities available there.

Bangor 050119

Facilities

This parkrun takes place in an urban setting in the town of Bangor. There is no one big car park here, but there is a small car park and lots of street parking around the park. If not driving though, there is a local bus service and the train station is a ten minute walk from the park, so easily accessible. There are toilets available next to the start line but no changing facilities.

Course

This run is entirely paved and is mostly flat, though there are a few small climbs. It might therefore be a good place to attempt a PB, but there are some sharp corners that will slow you down. The sharp corners are a result of the shape of the run, which I think might best be described as a flower with three petals, where you start in the middle, go out on one loop and get back to the middle, go out on another loop, and then a third. This needs to be done three times. It’s a bit difficult to follow the first time round but there are marshals on hand to guide you. The park itself is very nice, being well maintained and having lots of nice features and points of interest, like the pond and a German u-boat cannon.

Coffee

The parkrun volunteers put on a great spread in the bowling pavilion for the runners when they finish the run.

X Factor

This run is a great example of two organisations sharing their facilities and making best use of them for the good of the community.

Derry City 010119

Facilities

Parking is available at the quayside near the start of this parkrun. It is, however, an urban setting so I imagine that this is paid parking. There is, however, a retail park a few hundred yards downstream from the start line where parking is free. If not driving, this run can be accessed by the city bus services, or by bicycle. There are no toilet or changing facilities available.

Course

This is an out and back course along the banks of the Foyle, starting on the west side of the Foyle and crossing the Peace Bridge to the east side and back again. The entire route is paved. The route is mostly flat but there is a bit of climbing to do to get up onto the bridge from the far side. There is plenty to admire on this run, with a great view of the Derry quays, an attractive wooded area at the far end of the course, and of course the spectacular Peace Bridge.

Coffee

There is a cafe near the start/finish line where parkrunners can enjoy a post run coffee.

X Factor

Derry, the Walled City, has a long and complicated history making it a very interesting place to visit. The standout feature of this run is the Peace Bridge, which is not only very beautiful, but a great symbol of reconciliation after a long history of division in this city.

Portrush 010119

Facilities

There is a huge car park available next to the start line for this parkrun, so there should be no problem getting parking at this time of the year at least. It is right next to a popular beach however, so during summertime it may be busier. Public transport isn’t really a viable option as far as I am aware. There are toilets available close to the start line, but no changing facilities

Course

This is a simple course to follow, being just a straightforward out and back along the shoreline of Portrush beach. Of course the surface is sand all the way, which can make for a hard run, but if the tide is out the sand near the water can be quite compact and easier to run on. The run is flat but is open to the elements, so wrap up if the weather is less than ideal. The scenery along the run is spectacular with the north Antrim coast in full view. The sound of crashing waves also adds to the atmosphere.

Coffee

Every week parkrunnners enjoy post  run coffee in a nearby cafe.

X Factor

This parkrun is one of a rare breed of beach runs and this reason alone makes it a special parkrun.

Glen River 291218

Facilities

There is a small car park available next to this park just north of Cork city centre. If this car park is full up there are two larger car parks available a few minutes away. Being in the city though, bus may be a better option to get to this parkrun. Toilets are available in the resource centre close to the start line, but no changing facilities.

Course

This run is made up of a three lap course, the first being a shorter lap and the next two being longer loops. There is a contra flow in operation at the far end of the bigger lap, so keep to the left. The surface is a mixture between paving and gravel. The topography of the park is fairly dramatic, as the river through the centre of the park has cut a deep valley in the landscape. This means that there is a good bit of climbing to do at this run as you go from the riverside to the top of the valley. There are lots of mature trees and greenery in the park, and given the layout it is quite peaceful in the centre of the park, with little noise contamination from the surrounding city.

Coffee

Parkrunnners enjoy coffee at the resource centre after the run

X Factor

This is the first parkrun to operate in Cork city for a long time and it is great to see it spread to the real capital. For fans of the Young Offenders it is a lot of fun to be in the north city and try to decipher what the locals are saying through their lyrical accents.

Carlanstown 221218

Facilities

There is a small car park on site at this rural parkrun, but cars are sometimes parked on the grass, meaning there should be enough room to park if you travel by car. Public transport is not really an option. There are no toilets or changing facilities.

Course

This run is made up of three undulating laps around the outside of the park, which altogether means that there is plenty of climbing to be done at this parkrun. The surface is mostly light gravel. Distance markers along the route let you know how far you have gone. The park itself is quite open, and being in such a rural location is very quiet and peaceful.

Coffee

Coffee is had in a cabin near the finish line where you can discuss your run with your fellow parkrunners

X Factor

Seeing new parkruns being set up in small communities is testament to the enduring popularity of the parkrun organisation and the volunteers that make these events happen.

 

Tyrrelstown 011218

Facilities

There is a small car park available at this parkrun, so public transport may be a better option to travel here. The run is located at the edge of Dublin but is a well populated area and has a regular bus service, and can be easily reached on foot by local residents. If you are driving to this parkrun however, just a slight note on directions if using Google maps: better to aim for the GAA club as aiming for the Community centre will bring you to the wrong side of the community centre where there is no parking.

Course

The course is made up of three laps around the park, with a short spur at the end to the finish line. The course is easy to follow, with just two non-obvious turns which are either signposted or marshalled. The route is almost entirely flat with just a very short pinch at the far end of the lap, and is all paved, so this would be a great parkrun to attempt a PB. The park itself is open, with a nice pond at the far end.

Coffee

After the run parkrunners go for a coffee in the community centre.

X Factor

Tyrrelstown is a new suburb of Dublin, which is evident in the large purpose built  community facilities and the densely built houses. It is interesting to compare this area to the older parts of Dublin.

Wallace 241118

Facilities

There is great connectivity to this parkrun by public transport, with the park located right next to the town train station and with a good local bus service. There is not a lot of parking available at the park, and spaces get taken up quickly as other park users gather. I didn’t see any toilet or changing facilities at the park.

Course

This event is made up of three big laps and one small lap around the park. You start off on the small lap but don’t complete it until after completing the three big laps. The route is paved throughout. There is a hill in the park which you come across on the big lap, and since you do this three times there is a fair bit of climbing here. There is lots of activity in the park, with people coming to use the football pitches, playgrounds and the cricket pitch in summer time.

Coffee

The parkrun volunteers supply post run coffee at the bandstand near the finish line.

X Factor

The value of a good park is plain to be seen at this event with so much going on. It was great to see so many people out and active early on a Saturday morning.