Rostrevor parkrun a hit.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Rostrevor parkrun a hit. thumbnailNEWRY’S all time great distance runner Willie McCracken, pictured with Olympian Mary Peters, once had 60 runners waiting for him to turn up for a race.

KILBRONEY Park, Rostrevor hosts a 5k parkrun every Saturday at 9.30am.

The parkrun phenomenon started in Bushy Park, Teddington, UK, where 13 intrepid parkrunners got together on 2 October 2004 with a small team of volunteers, writes Eimear McCracken.

It took nearly two years before the parkrun phenomena spread beyond Bushy Park.

Wimbledon was the chosen venue and the results were collated on paper before the technology was developed to include the parkrun barcode and registration system we have today.

Now many thousands of runners are processed, websites updated and emails sent each week.

Parkrun is a free, weekly, 5km timed run and they take place all around the world, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, United Kingdom and the USA.

They are open to everyone, free and are safe and easy to take part in. Once you have registered you can run in any parkrun in the world.

Parkrun is such a simple concept: turn up on a Saturday and run 5km. It doesn't matter how fast you go. It doesn't matter what you're wearing.

What matters is taking part. Many participants start off with the walk-a-bit-jog-a-bit approach and build up to running the whole 5k. If you feel that you are not at the stage where you could run the whole distance, don't worry - just come along and participate.

There are now parkrun events each Saturday and Sunday in countries all around the world. Each event is based in a unique location like a park, beach or promenade.

All events are organised by a group of dedicated volunteers. Parkrun is all about inclusiveness and wellbeing and that is why parkruns are never more than 5km - it's a distance that anyone can complete. The format of parkrun is so simple: register once, then turn up and take part wherever you want, whenever you want.

To register with us please head to and click on 'register', await your confirmation email containing your barcode, print it out and remember to bring it with you when you run.

Once you are registered you can run at any of our worldwide events without having to re-register.

We are lucky to have a parkrun right on our doorstep in Newry and Mourne. The Rostrevor parkrun is two laps of the park which takes in the Fairy Glen and the fabulous Narnia trail.

So please register via the website, print out your barcode and meet us at the lower car park every Saturday at 9.20am as the parkrun starts at 9.30am.

Once you complete your run you will be given a token. This is scanned alongside your personal barcode and you will be emailed or sent a text message with your time. It is a great way to make friends and keep fit.

Rostrevor man Peter McConville, has won the local event an amazing ten times. While just some of the other local athletes who have finished the event in first place are: Andrew Hicks, Don Travers, Chris Devine, Finbar McGrady, Domhnall Murphy, Barry Monaghan, Paul Le Blanc, David Hicks, Seamus Loughran and Dermot Mathers, the latter who holds the record for the Rostrevor course, a zippy 17.12.

And the winning ladies include: Catherine Sands, Maria Byrne, Deirdre Dunford, Patricia Brown, Ann Havern, Ciara Burns, Ann Marie Featherstone, Michaela Downey, Sarah Jane Beattie, Diane Wilson, Eva Kitchen, Cathy Rice, Caroline Wade and Esther Dickson, the latter who has posted the best local time - 20.14.

Parkrun relies on volunteers giving up their time on Saturday mornings to help deliver the event, including marshalling and helping with the timing.

And some of these volunteers include Willie Mc- Cracken, Catharina Rua, Claire Gibbons, Kevin Morgan, Silvio Rua and Tony McAteer.

Incidentally this is a great way for teenagers to gain some experience for those all-important UCAS forms or CV's.

It's also a great opportunity for an injured runner to participate in running events and for non runners to get out, get some fresh air and meet new people.

If you have some spare time please visit the website to register for a volunteering role.

There are currently 25 parkruns in Northern Ireland including Castlewellan, Armagh and Wallace Park in Lisburn. So it's time to get the trainers on and join the growing band of runners who participate in this healthy, invigorating sport.

Incidentally Eimear McCracken posted a humorous wee story on Facebook at the weekend about her father Willie, one of the main driving forces behind the Rostrevor parkruns and a man who is surely Newry's all-time number one distance runner.

It concerns a race, the Markethill 10k, held on a Wednesday evening in June during the eighties.

Willie takes up the story: "I was working in W&S Magowans at the time, and one evening I got a phone call from a gentleman who asked me if I would participate in their 10k run. I asked him what time the event was due to start. His reply was 6.30pm but I told him I didn't finish until 6pm and that I wouldn't be able to make it until after seven.

But he answered me saying - no bother, we'll wait until you arrive!"

And he was as good as his word with Willie arriving after seven while about 60 runners jogged about impatiently as they waited on the Star to toe the line. And what's more, despite being sent the wrong way, Willie won the Markethill race.


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