Oranmore parkrun #55 - August 26, 2017
We all love parkrun for its simplicity. There are only a few rules. Don't forget your barcode, dogs on a short lead, and a few more. And there are a few unwritten rules too. First, you can never admit another parkrun is "better" than your "home" parkrun, and second, there's no such thing as a "perfect parkrun". Well, this morning in Oranmore I found a real beauty, coming close to breaking both of those unwritten rules!
We got there early, and parked in the lower car park by the water's edge, our first treat of many this morning with spectacular views of the lovely harbour.
At 9:00, I met Maureen Devaney, Event Director and today's Run Director, setting up the new flag at the start. Maureen is a real parkrun veteran, having helped establish Galway's first parkrun on the other side of the city, she now has a real gem in Orannore. A few minutes later, along came her side-kick Mark McCormick, also positively brimming with enthusiasm for parkrun. Mark is not only regular Run Director and core team stalwart for the Saturday parkrun, but since last week also Event Director for Ireland's latest junior parkrun which was such a huge hit for its inaugural run. Such is his energy, you'd imagine that he'd do it every other day of the week too, if his real job didn't get in the way!
Mark was running today, but that didn't stop him joining the team or volunteers, delivering the New Runners' Briefing which Maureen addressed the regulars. As well as a number of first-timers, Mark welcomed visitors all the way from Tralee (myself and Maeve), Molly and James Millington from London, Anwar Memon from Milan and even tourists who came all the way from Athenry! (Milano Nord must be a tough course, Anwar's time today was his parkrun PB, over a minute faster than his home PB. Maybe the weather is a factor!)
Marshals Ellie Dickens and Sinead O'Hagan, and tail walker Sharon Daly.
At 9:30 on the dot, we were off. What a fantastic route. Perfect surface, lovely scenery, a mixture of park and forest. A few hills thrown in for the real runners. As it's two laps rather than the three I'm used to, I wasn't lapped by anyone this week for a change. But the lovely figure-of-eight circuit means that not only did we get to see the other runners a couple of times, we also met the marshals/cheerleaders four times, but they steadfastly refused to allow a short cut even for a visitor!
As I was well towards the back of the pack, I obviously don't have any photos of the first finishers - most of them were long gone when I struggled up that last hill behind Niamh and Padraig, who kept me entertained and motivated for the 5k.
After 32 runs, Barry Maguire crossed the line first today for his first time, 19:49 was pretty close to his PB! He was followed by Alan Dempsey and the afore-mentioned Mark McCormick. Aine O'Farrell had a great run and was the first lady home (and third overall) in a time of 20:20 - her ninth time being the first lady to finish. She was also fastest junior, although Tom Griffin wasn't far behind with his Top-10 finish.
Lots of PBs today too, for Helen Kelly, Mary McCormack, Elisabete Aguas, Ann Hughes, Elaine Joyce, Patricia McCarthy, John Forde, John Sheehan, PJ Tarpey, Alan Bailey and Mark Finlay. And a special mention for James Cawley who had not only his fifth consecutive PB, but has now had eight PBs in just 13 runs, and has seen his time improve from just under 30 minutes to his first sub-24 today!
You can check out the full results here.
After the run, we had a chance to chat with Maureen, Mark and tail-walker Sharon in the nearby Poppy Seed Cafe - the food is delicious! It's a lovely way to finish a parkrun morning, having a coffee and a chat wth fellow parkrun enthusiasts.
Timekeepers Jonathan Cormican and Fergus Kelly, waiting at the top of that final hill!
By the way, Maureen and Mark, there is one more unwritten rule, nay, commandment, that you are breaking! "Thou shalt not have an uphill finish at a parkrun!" (OK, maybe that only applies to the strugglers/stragglers like me!).
Of course having glorious sunny weather helps, but there's no doubt that Oranmore parkrun is something very special. We all know how parkrunners are always friendly and welcoming, none more so than the team at Oranmore, thanks for a lovely morning and we look forward to returning the hospitality when you visit us in Tralee!