WHAT do London, Sydney, Copenhagen, Capetown, Westport, Castlebar, Ballina and now Erris have in common?
Well, these are some of the wonderful locations worldwide that host a parkrun event. parkrun is a global network of weekly 5km timed runs or walks in local parks that take place each and every Saturday morning year round.
Currently there are over 800 parkruns worldwide, with almost 1.5 million people taking part in events since its inception. The runs and walks are open to all ages and abilities, they are free to enter, hosted in safe, traffic-free environments, and are easy to take part in.
The Saturday morning runs are open to all ages and make for a fun and active way for families to kick start their weekends, as parkrun is a community-based initiative that encourages participation, not competition.
Erris has been particularly active in the past few weeks due to the success of popular local man John Conmy in the Operation Transformation programme, with walks and other physical activity sessions in full swing throughout the region.
Starting tomorrow (Saturday, February 20), parkrun will come to the scenic Cross Loop, Cross, Binghamstown, Belmullet, for the first time. This inaugural event coincides with the nationwide Operation Transformation 5k being held in the Phoenix Park and at all the various parkruns throughout the country. The meeting point is at Cross graveyard and walk to the start of the course adjacent to Cross Lake.
This free weekly event, taking place at 9.30 a.m. sharp, is hosted by the Erris community with the support of organisations such as the Mayo Sports Partnership, the HSE through their Get Ireland Active initiative, the West Mayo Municipal District of Mayo County Council, and locally through Erris Men on the Move, the Wild Atlantic Warriors running club, and the Cross Loop Walk committee.
Events are timed each week, with results uploaded to the parkrun website where the eager runners can track their runs and progress. All participants - both walkers and runners - must register for the event on http://www.parkrun.ie/erris. Registration is free and once registered, participants receive a unique barcode that enables them to take part at any of the global events without having to re-register.
Speaking to The Connaught Telegraph, joint event directors Padraig Brogan and Stephen Barrett stress that it’s not a race but a recreational run, jog or walk at an individual’s own pace. Support from the community has been phenomenal to date, they say, and they paid tribute to Matt Shields from parkrun Ireland, Charlie Lambert from Mayo Sports Partnership and Ann Egan and the Ballina parkrun team for their support and assistance.
“We are hoping that individuals and clubs throughout the area will get on board with this great event on their doorsteps in one of the most scenic locations in the county,” add the lads.
Even if you do not have a barcode, the organisers invite anyone who wishes to try parkrun out to come along tomorrow morning in Erris or Ballina, Castlebar or Westport. To find out more about the initiative, contact the Mayo Sports Partnership at (094) 9047025 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.