Portumna parkrun #30 – The Invasion of the TpoTs!

     Tralee's Event Director Siobhan Kearney meets Run Director Teresa Murphy

What's this all about TpoTs? Well, Tralee parkrunners on Tour is our unofficial "club" for some of us who have enjoyed our own parkrun so much over the years that we have decided to see how the other half live, and we've had trips away, in groups large and small, to lots of other Irish and a few international parkruns!
Tralee parkrunners on tour A3
Indeed, our most celebrated "parkrun tourists", Bairbre & Bertie Hickey, visited Portumna just a few weeks ago and recommended it highly, and so when we heard of the plans to hold the fourth annual parkrun conference in Athlone this weekend, we saw this as a great opportunity to visit Portumna Forest Park on our way to the event. Bairbre won't be back for a while, she's on a mission to do all of Ireland's parkruns, and she still has a way to go!
     Flashback to August, the visit of the Hickeys!


This was a very special weekend for parkrun, not just because of the Irish conference. The first Saturday in October is always International parkrun Day, marking the day 14 years ago when Paul Sinton-Hewitt started it all in Bushy Park in London (known as the Bushy Park Time Trial until it became "parkrun"). There were just 13 runners that day, and it has now grown so much and spread so widely that this very week, the five millionth person signed up to join the parkrun family!


     Theresa, Johanna and Lisa get everything ready for Portumna parkrun #30
Portumna Forest Park, what a beautiful place for a parkrun! We were welcomed by this week's Run Director Teresa Murphy, and her small but well-organised team of volunteers. The course was set up before we arrived, including cordoning off part of the car park to ensure our safe passage on our second lap.


Teresa delivered the Run Briefing to a crowd of just over 30 runners, walkers and joggers - a third of them from Kerry and a few more from Cork, Cabinteely and Castlebar, among others! And just one from Listowel parkrun, their Event Director Tim Segal, who was an honourary TpoT for the day - although he might not like to be told that!




With the route explained and the essential safety instructions imparted, we were off just after 9:30 into the woods. It's a lovely, nearly flat route, you really feel at one with nature.


     Thanks for the company Emer!
I had the pleasure of running part of the route with Emer Durkan, who has done almost all of her parkruns here in Portumna, and she told me a story we hear every time we visit a different parkrun - what a difference parkrun has made to her and many others, something to look forward to and enjoy every Saturday morning!


I didn't get a photo of the first finishers (I rarely see them unless the course is three laps and they have time to overtake me!) For the record, this week's first finishers were the Campbells, junior parkrunner Rory finishing just in front of his dad Richie. Next over the line was the aforementioned Tim, in sight of the pair all the way.

Marie Therese Murphy was the first finishing lady, another visitor, doing just her second parkrun in Portumna and knocking a couple of minutes off her time. You can see the full results from this week's parkrun here.


But of course parkrun is not a race, and everyone else who joined us this week enjoyed it just as much as the faster runenrs. Bringing up the rear were a trio of TpoTs, with Caroline Lynch donning the orange Hi-Vis jacket as Tail Walker for the day. That's one of the great things about parkrun, you're never last unless you've taken on that role for the day, and every parkrun now has a Tail Walker whose job it is to make sure everyone gets home safely, no matter how long it takes.


It takes a while for a new parkrun to get off the ground, especially in the more sparsely-populated areas. So it's great to spread the word, encourage your friends and family to come along, follow the Facebook pages. And as well as enjoying your Forest Park, you can become a PpoT! Galway alone has three other lovely events - Oranmore, Knocknacarra and Oughterard - and you will get (nearly) as good a welcome wherever you go! All you need is your printed barcode to enjoy 1500 parkruns all over the world!

Anyone can take part, and if there's a day you don't feel like running or walking, every parkrun is delighted with new volunteers. Your parkrun is run entirely by local volunteers, and the more the duties are shared out, the less anyone has to do. Volunteering is just as much fun as running (for some of us, even more fun!), and all the tasks are easy. Volunteers are trained in quickly on the morning of the run.

"What's in it for me if I volunteer?" Well, apart from the great satisfaction and lots of fun and friendship, after 25 times volunteering you get to wear one of these "aubergine" T-shirts - they're free, you just have to pay for shipping. No one does it for the T-shirt, of course, but it's a nice treat for the dedicated!

The runners get T-shirts too - also free! For the junior runners, there's a white T-shirt after ten runs (they're in short supply at the moment but will hopefully be back in stock soon), and in another few months you will start to see the red "50" T-shirts in Portumna.


Thank you to all the Portumna team and runners for welcoming us to your lovely parkrun, hopefully we can repay the hospitality if you visit us in Tralee!

Tony Higgins
Tralee parkrun



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