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On the run

Living

Castlebar’s Adrian Keena on taking part in the global parkrun phenomenon 

So there I was, exhausted but exhilarated, totally out of breath but with a smug Mrs Doyle grin, reflecting on my own personal achievement. Outside I was cool, calm and collected (ahem) but inside there was a brass band playing!
I had just beaten my PB (personal best) time at Castlebar parkrun after many, many attempts on successive Saturday mornings. On five occasions, I had recorded 21:57 – just one second down on my PB of 21:56, but knocking just two seconds off that time to achieve a new PB seemed beyond me.
Well, I did it, and my new time of 21:52 was recorded recently. It will probably not be beaten by me for quite some time, but who cares? I set myself a target many months ago, and I finally achieved it.
This is the real strength of parkrun – it’s a personal thing. There are no prizes for the winners and there is as much support for the person who has just completed the course for the first time by walking at a steady pace as there is for the runner who can sprint around in under 18 minutes.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of the events. Without them parkruns would just not be possible. There are time keepers who record each runner’s times, volunteers who hand out finishing chips, head marshals who give newcomers and visitors all the information that they need, first aiders and more.  
Castlebar parkrun takes place every Saturday morning at 9.30am. In fact, every parkrun takes place around the world at 9.30am on Saturday mornings. There are currently four in Mayo, Castlebar, Westport, Ballina and a new one in Erris. The runs are totally free, just visit parkrun.ie, register, print off your barcode and away you go, you will never have to pay anything. Each run is timed and every registered runner receives an email telling them their time, their position and much more.
Each Saturday around 70 runners, walkers and volunteers begin their challenge at Castlebar Tennis Club, run two laps of Lough Lannagh and finish in the Holiday Village. If you feel like a challenge, you should try it. It’s a great way to make new friends, and the ever-reliable Paul Gavin is on hand in the Tennis Club to provide tea and coffee for anyone who feels a little chat and post-mortem is required before heading home.
So go on, if you are on holiday in Mayo, register online for the parkrun nearest your home, or if you’re living in Mayo, choose one of the three runs available in our county. It’s a totally free, fun event that is suited to every age group. Print out that bar code, stick it in your car, so you won’t forget it – and we will see you on Saturday morning!

Mayo parkruns are held every Saturday morning at 9.30am in Castlebar, Westport, Erris and Ballina. For more information, visit parkrun.ie.

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