junior parkrun came to my attention about one year ago. The latest parkrun newsletter had dropped into my inbox and there was news of the first Irish junior parkrun held in Rush, Co. Dublin in December 2015. At the end of the article was an invitation to get in touch if you’d like a junior parkrun in your community.
With three young children I thought a junior parkrun would be a great addition to my local area. I emailed Matt Shields, parkrun Ireland coordinator. I naively thought a crack team from parkrun HQ would swoop in and establish a new run in a few weeks!
I proposed a junior parkrun in Albert College Park in Dublin 9. Matt was familiar with the park and thought it would be very suitable for a 2k junior run. He asked me to gather together a team of volunteers. I asked mostly neighbours and parents at my son’s school to sign up and as I was proposing a junior parkrun, I needed them all to be Garda Vetted. We also distributed leaflets looking for volunteers and had a good response. This wonderful group of new volunteers all signed-up and form the core team at Albert College juniors today.
Matt did the hard work of liaising with Dublin City Council for permission to use the park. We received our Garda Vetting and attended a Child Safeguarding course organinsed by Athletics Ireland. Together with Siobhan O’Reilly, a neighbor and member of the core team and Prof. Enda Fitzpatrick of DCU we selected and measured our 2km route. Thankfully Matt left us to complete all the steps towards establishing a run at our own pace and never put any pressure on us or set any deadlines. He’s pretty easy going!
By May 2016 we had received the date of our first run, June Bank Holiday 2016. Our event appeared on the parkrun website and we had a Facebook page. It was really going to happen !
Matt and Ruth and Rob Partridge from parkrun, delivered the training on Saturday and the following day we were very glad to have their help and support for our very first Albert College junior parkrun. The park staff has been amazingly supportive and helpful.
Since then we have gone from strength to strength! The junior parkrun is a fun and friendly 2k run for children aged 4-14. We encourage children of all abilities to join in. Parents love that brothers and sisters can run together and are not separated into different age groups. The participants themselves love that they can run with their friends, neighbours and classmates. We start and end our run at a playground so kids can extend the fun after the run and parents enjoy a great coffee from mobile coffee van, Coffee Van-Chino. It has become a very sociable event.
The core team and run directors at junior parkrun are fantastic and give so much of their time to this volunteer-run community event. We need marshals dotted along the course to keep a close eye on all athletes and volunteers in the finishing funnel. Although we are a very new event we already have a number of very competent Run Directors and regular volunteers. I would like to thank all the core team members and volunteers on my own behalf and on behalf of the athletes who run regularly and their parents. Like myself I think the volunteers really enjoy junior parkrun, the fun on a Sunday morning and the crazy energy of the kids. That’s what makes us do it and makes the kids return every week.
February will see two new junior parkruns in Ireland, St. Annes juniors and Bray juniors. I wish them the best of luck and encourage others to set-up junior parkruns in their area. It’s a pretty simple process and junior parkrun is a really great addition to any community.
Event Director, Albert College junior parkrun
If you’d like to be involved in bringing parkrun or junior parkrun to your local community, we’d love to hear from you. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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