Poolbeg parkrun in Irishtown, Dublin, joined the parkrun family in August 2017 and has so far welcomed 1,500 walkers, runners and volunteers to its picturesque coastal location.
Marijke Beltman, Poolbeg parkrun Event Director, tells us the story of this coastal parkrun that changes with the tides.
I became involved in parkrun initially as a runner, then as a runner/volunteer when I discovered that there were roles were you could do both. After changing home parkruns a number of times I responded to a call for volunteers for the inaugural Poolbeg parkrun. I went along to the core team training night and the rest is history! I was initially one of the six Run Directors, but when the Event Director who set up Poolbeg moved house I took over the role as ED and haven’t looked back since.
I love the inclusive concept of parkrun, you can participate by walking, jogging, running or – as I say it in my volunteer calls – to cheer as volunteer. Young and old, fast and slow it does not matter, everybody is welcome. I introduced my now 70 year old mother to parkrun a few years ago and she is now hooked!
It very much depends from which perspective you look at our course, but you can say its either tadpole shaped or tea spoon shaped! We start with a loop through Sean Moore Park, you come back past the finish and head out to the Irishtown nature reserve which has a little kicker of a hill in it. What goes up must come down, so at the top of the hill we have our turnaround point with a volunteer (don’t forget to say hello), after which you come past the finish again to head for a second loop around the park and come back to finish.
Undoubtly the Irish nature reserve hill is our most famous landmark, but who can ignore the backdrop of the famous Poolbeg chimneys which measure 207 meters and are a landmark of the Dublin skyline. These chimneys, also known as the Pigeon House chimneys after the Pigeon House generator that they originally belonged to, have been decommissioned since 2010 but remain an iconic feature visible from both land, sea and sky after it was decided that they would remain in situ instead of being taken down, following public outcry.
We have quite a number of international visitors who come to our parkrun when they are in Dublin for either business or leisure as we are quite easily accessible from town. We are located next to Clanna Gael GAA, which is one of the Dublin GAA training grounds! However we welcome runners of all counties and during the all-Ireland months in September/October we definitely had visitors who stopped by on their way to Croker!
As we are located beside the beach, each day on our course is different as the tide and the weather change the scenery each time. We can be an incredibly scenic parkrun with birds foraging in the shallow water while further down the beach kite surfers and dogs enjoying the freedom of the open space, but we are also very exposed to the elements.
The colours and view change with the tide. When the tide is out we run next to a beach with foraging birds, when the tide is in we have a flat or not so flat water body with those same birds bobbing up and down on it. The birds seem to tolerate us well but must be wondering what all those humans in bright clothing are doing in their territory!
As there is no coffee shop on site we usually head in to Sandymount vollage, which is less than a kilometer walk from the finish line. Here we have our coffee and process results in one of the cafes (usually Brownes, sometimes Café Java) that overlook the lovely Sandymount Green.
A special mention should go out to one of our regulars who used parkrun to get back into running after a cardiac incident. This parkrunner initially combined jogging and walking but the major breakthrough for him and quite an emotional occasion for those who were there was when he managed to complete his first parkrun after the event by running the full 5k!
Poolbeg parkrun serves the communities of Sandymount, Irishtown and Ringsend and we have parents and kids running together. We have also had various groups graduating from their Couch to 5k programmes at Poolbeg and it’s so nice to see the happiness and sense of achievement beaming of the faces at the finish. We’d love to see you there!
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