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Achill Greenway 220122

Facilities

This parkrun is located in the rural west of Ireland, meaning public transport is not really an option for getting here. One alternative for the more energetic, however, is to travel to Westport, well connected by trains and buses, on a Friday and then cycle to Achill on Saturday morning. It’s a long cycle but the cycling infrastructure is pretty good with a dedicated ‘Greenway’ route. Street parking is available close to the start line for those choosing to drive. There are no public toilets but the local GAA clubhouse may be open for parkrunners.

Course

This is an out and back course on the Greenway. Given the Greenway’s history as a rail line I was expecting a pancake flat course, but interestingly there is a slight hump in the middle of the course. The incline is very gradual but is definitely there. The surface is mostly paved or light gravel and makes for easy running. I was here on a dry and calm day which made for pleasant conditions. I’d recommend checking the forecast before attending; I imagine it would be a much different experience on a wild day. The scenery on the route is beautiful and is a great distraction.

Coffee

There are a few coffee options in the local village, with a cafe and some shops.

X Factor

When thinking about what makes this parkrun special it is hard not to think immediately of the location and scenery. The history of the Greenway is of interest, and if one walks from the start of the parkrun towards the village the remains of the old railway terminus and rail yard can be seen. It’s enjoyable to imagine an old steam engine roll into place at the platform when soaking in the views of the bay and mountains.

Pobalscoil na Trionoide 251221

Facilities

This parkrun has plenty of parking spaces for those who choose to drive to this run on the outskirts of Youghal town. Public transport will get you to Youghal, but as the run is located on the outskirts of the town there will be a walk of roughly 1.5 miles to the run, which can be a useful way to warm up. There are toilets at the run, but no changing facilities.

Course

This run is made up of a four lap course in a lollipop shape, with an out and back section to the loop. There is sizeable ascent from the far end of the loop back to the start of the lap, which as always doesn’t look that bad until you actually have to run up there four times. The course is entirely paved, but with a large step at the end of the paving in places be careful when overtaking or cornering.

Coffee

I attended this run on a special event day, so I’m not sure what the normal coffee situation is. I believe that there is a cafe on site.

X Factor

The most memorable part of this run for me was the fact that it was on Christmas Day. The benefits of running extend over the physical and mental realms and parkrun facilitates access to those benefits for people of all ages and abilities. The fact that there was a run on this day is testament to the good that parkrun brings to people’s lives.

Garvagh Forest 111221

Facilities

Car is probably the best option for getting to this parkrun, as no public transport services get into the village of Garvagh in time for the run. For parking, there is a small car park at the forest but if that fills up there is parking available at the nearby St. Paul’s church or Jim Watts sports centre. The parkrun is easily accessible for anyone living in Garvagh, being close to the village centre. There are no toilets or changing facilities at this parkrun, but there is a public toilet in the village.

Course

This course couldn’t be easier to follow, made up of two outer loops around the forest followed by a smaller inner loop. There are signposts showing where to go anywhere the forest paths overlap. There is a decent ascent on this run, which I didn’t realise until I was at the far end of the lap where there is a fairly steep downhill section. Climbing is very gradual. The surface is all forest trails, mostly consisting of light gravel. The course goes through the forest so the course is surrounded by trees at all times, which I always like. The trees provide shelter from the wind and rain in the winter and the sunshine in the summer.

Coffee

The village of Garvagh has two cafes where parkrunners can go to get breakfast or coffee. While there, if you have a sweet tooth, try out a fifteen, a cake local to Ulster.

X Factor

As always, I am fascinated by the local stories that you come across on parkrun tourist adventures. There is a pyramid near the entrance of Garvagh forest which was built by the first Lord Garvagh, George Canning, after a grand tour of Egypt. He had intended to be buried there but later had a change of heart and ordered the entrance of the pyramid closed. It is unused to this day, but remains a striking feature, a hidden gem in the middle of a rural forest.

Crawfordsburn Country 041221

Facilities

For those driving to this parkrun there is ample car parking space in this rural park. Public transport is an option, with the Belfast to Bangor train line running through the park. Allow some time for walking from the station to the start, however. Toilets are available at the visitor centre next to the run start but there are no changing facilities

Course

This is a really fun course. It starts off in the open park on paved paths and goes along by the shoreline until coming back inland and through the woods of the park on trail paths. The variety certainly keeps you guessing and there isn’t a lot of time to zone out, with lots of twists and turns you will have to stay alert. There are many paths that cross over and lay close to each other in the park. If you are unsure of the route, run next to a local. This is a hilly course, with some fairly punishing climbs; make sure to reserve sone energy for these. With views of the sea, mature woods and streams this is a very pretty park.

Coffee

Post run coffee is had in the visitor centre where there are many breakfast and sweet options.

X Factor

This parkrun had to be appreciated for the beauty of the location which is sublime. There are also great amenities close by. If you have time I would suggest walking/running the coastal route from the park to Bangor. Some great views to be had and witness the power of nature with the waves crashing against the shore.

Borrisokane Town 271121

Facilities

This parkrun is central to the town of Borriskane and would be easy to get to for local residents. For those coming from farther afield, the 72 bus will get you into Borriskane on time for parkrun coming from Birr. If driving there is a small car park in the park and lots of on street parking outside the park within a five minute walk of the start. There are no changing facilities or toilets at this event.

Course

This run is made up of three laps altogether, consisting of a small inner loop and then two outer loops. The course is twisty and has a few ups and downs so this is probably not the event to attempt a PB. There is also an out and back section of the course where there is a contra flow of runners so look out for others coming in the opposite direction. The surface is mostly light gravel with short areas of coarser gravel and paving. There are many things to keep you entertained as you go around the course, including carvings of famous quotes and a duck pond.

Coffee

Coffee is had in a local shop, slightly less than a ten minute walk from the finish line.

X Factor

I mentioned above that this event is not a great place to attempt a PB, but this is a great event to just go out and enjoy a run. The twisty route will keep you on your toes as you go around and the quote carvings located all over the park will get you thinking. My favourite was from JRR Tolkien: “Not all those who wander are lost”.

Edwin Carolan Community 201121

Facilities

This parkrun is located in the village of Mullagh in county Cavan. Mullagh is serviced by the 108 bus route which runs from Kells to Bailieboro, though from Bailieboro the bus arrives just at 09:30, making it tight for the parkrun start. There is a large car park at the site and the run is within walking distance for local residents. There are toilets near the start line, but no changing facilities.

Course

This run consists of four laps around the course. A lapped run can often impact one’s mentality during a run, either positively or negatively, because it is very easy to tell what distance has been covered and what is left. It depends on mood and how you feel physically but I would recommend a progression run for a lapped course, i.e. start off slow and increase tempo as you go. This helps to create a positive mindset and ‘attack’ the run. The course is very flat and mostly consists of light gravel. It has a figure of eight shape and so has many right angle turns, so if you are running fast take a wide berth to keep up momentum. The run is located on the grounds of a sports facility where there are plans for a running track and football pitches. There is a nice stream next to the path at the far end of the course.

Coffee

Coffee is had on site at the clubhouse next to the course I believe. I didn’t have the opportunity to join on this occasion unfortunately.

X Factor

I finished in first place at this run, which was nice of course, but I am not a fast runner. The fact that I finished in first place just goes to show that parkrun is for everyone, not just the elite runners, and this run is a real community effort which is great to see.

Hasenheide 131121

Facilities

This parkrun is located in south central Berlin and is easy to get to as it is well serviced by public transport in the city. For anyone that would need to drive to this parkrun, parking is limited and probably not advised. There are no changing facilities or toilets nearby.

Course

The route for this parkrun is a little difficult to describe. There are two separate inner loops within a greater outer loop. At any rate, the route is well signposted and easy to follow. There are several undulations throughout the course, which make for fun running but this probably would not be the run to attempt a PB. The route is paved throughout, with broad footpaths. The park itself is very nice, with large mature groves, large fields and is isolated from traffic.

Coffee

I didn’t on this occasion have a chance to visit the post-run coffee, but parkrunners gather in a nearby cafe after the run. Join them for all the running chats.

X Factor

Berlin is an incredible city with such character and fascinating history. This alone would be enough to make this a special parkrun, but there is another reason why this parkrun will stick out in my mind. While running around the park my bank card fell out of my pocket; obviously a distressing situation. As I crossed the finish line, however, I heard a volunteer calling out my name. A parkrunner had seen my card, picked it up and returned it to the organisers. I was overjoyed and hugely impressed by the kindness and generosity of the card finder. Thank you to my unknown helper.

Sport Ireland Campus 301021

Facilities

This parkrun is located in the Sport Ireland campus in the west of Dublin and is accessible by bus from the city centre. Because of the sheer size of the campus there is a long walk from the bus stop to the start of the run of about 1km, so if travelling by bus allow time for this walk. There is a small car park close to the start line, which may fill up quickly, but there are other larger car parks in the campus, within 500m roughly. The area is residential so walking would be possible for residents, again though, time should be allowed for the walk into the campus. There are toilets at the Horse Arena close to the start line, but no changing facilities.

Course

When I visited this event there was a temporary course in place until after the upcoming cross country championships have taken place. This temporary route is made up of three laps of the course. There are no sharp climbs on the course, but there is a fair elevation difference between the top and the bottom of the course, so it couldn’t be called a flat run. The well signposted route is roughly 60% grass and 40% paved. The grassy parts were quite muddy when I was there in October, so winter running here would be exciting I would say. The surroundings are very nice, being an open field with some nice mature trees dotted around it.

Coffee

Coffee is had in the National Aquatic Centre, which you will pass when exiting the campus. It is a hive of activity.

X Factor

The scale of the Sport Ireland campus is impressive, with excellent facilities for a whole range of sports. The elite athletes of each discipline train in these facilities and inspiration can be taken from their Herculean efforts.

The Grand Canal Way 161021

Facilities

Tullamore, being on the main Dublin to Galway train line, is well serviced by public transport. Runners can take the train from Galway or from Dublin to get to Tullamore in time for parkrun. Buses also serve the town locally. There is a large car park close to the start line also, with a five minute walk to the start line. The parkrun is also centrally located for residents of the town. There are no changing or toilet facilities at the location.

Course

This parkrun is made up of a simple out and back course along the banks of the Grand Canal. It is therefore mostly flat and fast, and a good place to attempt a PB. The route is almost entirely paved and the path is wide, allowing plenty of space for runners. Beware, however, that the path is shared with vehicular traffic. The route is fairly sheltered and running alongside the still waters of the canal is a calming experience.

Coffee

Coffee is had by the parkrun group in a cafe/interiors shop in Tullamore town with all sorts of interesting products for sale.

X Factor

Canals were built in a time before good roads and the internal combustion engine. Canals were once the modern highways of the country and it is interesting to imagine the traffic that once passed along these routes.

Knockbracken Reservoir 250921

Facilities

This parkrun is co-located with a busy water park at a reservoir in Carryduff on the outskirts of Belfast. There is a large car park at the site with ample room for parking. The run can also be accessed by local buses and is within walking distance of residential areas of Carryduff. There are toilets available at the water park close to the start line, but no changing facilities.

Course

This is fast course. It is mostly flat, is fully paved and well sheltered, so a great place for a PB attempt. There are two 90 degree turns but taking a wide berth should allow you to keep momentum. The run is made up of three laps of the course with a short spur at the end of the third lap. The course goes around the reservoir, which is at a height to the south of Belfast meaning there are some great views to the north as you run around.

Coffee

Coffee is had at the cafe next to the water park, which has nice views over the activities in the park.

X Factor

The water park at the reservoir is very impressive with a lot of facilities for all types of water sports. I always think it is great to see people getting out and being active and the water park and the parkrun work well together in this location.