In Newtownabbey, Co Antrim in Northern Ireland you can find the “undulating” Valley parkrun, one of more than 25 parkruns in Northern Ireland.
Denis O’Donnell & Event Director Stephen Bartley from Valley parkrun tell us more…
I became involved with parkrun through a work colleague and never looked back! I love the variety of parkrunners attending each week; from young families to senior citizens. Everyone is accepted and welcomed as equals and it makes for a special experience every Saturday morning.
Our event takes place at Valley Leisure Centre in Newtownabbey and it’s a two-lapper entirely on tarmac paths.
I would describe our course as “Not flat but friendly” and we call it the dry run as since our parkrun started over 3.5 years ago it rarely rains at 9:30am on a Saturday morning at the valley.
The most famous landmark is the finish line! The finish line as it is always good to get there after 5K and our parkrun finishes through the Peace Gate. The Peace Gate is a modern sculpture that was installed as part of the recent refurbishment of the park.
Amongst our parkrun family is Sammy Gallagher. Sammy is an ardent volunteer who has represented Northern Ireland in athletics at national level.
Sammy always brings his smile and his stopwatch to parkrun. He gives each runner an intermediate time and lots of encouragement as they pass by his marshalling position.
Although not on the official parkrun volunteer roster we have named Sammy’s position on the course as the “Sammy role”.
If I was trying to encourage parkrun tourists to come and visit us at Valley, I would say our event has everything – the friendly welcome, the good natured banter and the challenging course (did we mention that the course isn’t flat?).
There is also a café in the Leisure Centre, a coffee dock in the Pavilion where the scanning takes place and we provide water and juice and the occasional sweet treats so you are spoiled for choice.
You also have the opportunity to win a free hot drink! The coffee dock in the Pavilion picks a finish number at random after the run has started, and the lucky parkrunner finds out when the finish their run.
Our parkrun has had a positive effect on the local community. Friendships have formed, people have become fitter and volunteers and parkrunners have had fun. What more could you ask for?
If you’re interested in bringing parkrun to your own community, please get in touch with us using this form.
My parkrun barcode identifies me as A1562206, my best friend who runs ahead of me calls me Paul, the two conscripts I drag and cajole around the course know me as “Dad”. However, after every 10 or 12 parkruns I volunteer, and on those days I am known to most parkrunners as “Shouty Bearded…
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