Nestled between the villages of Rathfarnham and Terenure about five miles south of Dublin City Centre lies Bushy Dublin parkrun, which many local people describe as a “hidden gem”. Event Director Niall Coppinger explains why…
The park originated in 1700 and was passed over to the state in 1953. The park is a hive of activity all year-round. It caters for football, tennis, padel and skateboarding. There is a lovely children’s playground and a vibrant farmer’s market on Saturdays. Sportsworld Running Club also has its clubhouse in Bushy.
We knew we had a fantastic venue and a community ready to embrace parkrun. So when Dublin City Council gave us the green light to begin on 25th February 2017 we already had a core team and we were set for our inaugural event. We are so fortunate that our parkrun route incorporates the quieter secluded sections of the park.
I had been a member of the Marlay parkrun volunteer team so had a fair idea of what was involved in getting up and running. Caroline Kennedy, Camilla Tuffy and myself had our plans in place once we had the start date confirmed. I was fortunate to be able to call on family members Declan, Martina and Regina who were already experienced Run Directors at Tymon parkrun, where another sister Aisling is Event Director. What delights us all is being able to complement our core volunteer team with people who had no previous involvement with parkrun.
We resolved at the start of this year to enlist more first time volunteers as we knew it would give them an enhanced perspective of the joys of parkrun. This has proved so successful. We wanted our participants to feel that they own the event as much as anyone and know that we have achieved this objective. It has been wonderful to observe the event carve its own identity whilst exhibiting the harmonious parkrun vibe. We also have great collaborative relationships with all of the local parkruns.
The course starts and finishes along the river Dodder. It is flat with lots of twists and turns around ponds and lakes, over bridges, waterfalls and through forest trails. We’ve only ever had one faller in to the pond! Most locals are quite familiar with the main park but many weren’t aware of the pathway along the Dodder where the event starts and finishes. It’s great to hear people enthuse about a hidden gem in their own neighbourhood that they never knew existed.
We get lots of tourists from all over the parkrun world because of our shared name with the original event in London. Because of our shared name with the original Bushy parkrun we get lots of visitors keen to partake at both venues. The visitors are pleasantly surprised with the beauty of our route. We had a sensational International parkrun Day last year when a huge number of visitors from all over the UK chose to converge at our event to celebrate the occasion. The park was a ripe crop of shining apricot shirts, each proudly displaying the local event name. Because our event was so new then the day really enlightened our regulars to the universality of this fantastic community.
Our post-parkrun coffee venue is in Rathfarnham Shopping Centre but there are plans to construct a state of the art tea rooms within the park which will be the focal point for a post run get together. We are very excited about this as we’ve no doubt there are parkrun friends who have not yet met and this will be stimulus to make that happen.
We have been so fortunate to have the support of Terenure Men’s Shed who marshal the bridge and turnaround point with such enthusiasm each week. Our parkrunners have thought them how to ‘high five’ so that they can acknowledge them for the support. Our next ambition is to get the guys to swap the hi-vis for the barcode and get them to also participate in the event. We know they’ll love that too.
We have so many participants for whom parkrun has been life changing. Our regular Tail Walker, Mary Maguire, has ambitions to record a PB before her forthcoming 70th birthday. This might prove difficult as she is usually distracted pointing out the various flora and fauna in the park to visitors! Since taking the role Mary has managed to impress her GP by reducing her blood pressure and has also lowered her golf handicap due to her improved fitness. She has now invested in some serious footwear so there are definitely more milestones to be achieved yet!
Our average attendance is about 150, which adds to the homeliness feeling. Like parkrun itself we are a growing, thriving community and we are loving the journey along the way.
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