Our ‘spot the difference’ competition winner, Stella O’Shea, tells us about her trip to London’s Bushy parkrun which she won via the Vhi competition hosted on parkrun Ireland’s Facebook page.
It all began with the Vhi ‘parkrun spot the difference’ competition. It was special as I won a weekend trip, which included flights and accommodation to the home of the original parkrun at Bushy Park in London, all thanks to Vhi. I mentioned my win to fellow parkrunner Caroline Lynch who agreed that it would be a great idea to visit and that a few fellow parkrun enthusiasts might be interested in coming along.
Caroline, the amazing organiser that she is, went away and researched flights and accommodation for the rest of the crew and one by one people joined the group of 80 that descended on London’s Bushy Park on 19 January.
The morning may have been wet and cold but that didn’t dampen our spirits as we made our way to the beginning of the course, led by Don Esselmont from Banstead woods parkrun. Don had adopted us over the previous few weeks and via a What’s App group, provided us with insider information on the area of Teddington. He was responsible for the sudden descent, on Nando’s and Pizza Express the previous night. We were beyond thrilled to meet Paul Sinton-Hewitt at the start line and personally, that was the highlight of my trip. Paul was the man who has touched all our lives before he had even met us and we were indeed star struck. In his own charismatic way, he took time to be photographed with each one of us. He had kind words for everyone and spent his time chatting as the crowd around us gathered for the start!
The start was colossal in comparison with our Tralee parkrun and it all comes back to the stellar work put in by the volunteers. We charged towards the path, bounding over anthills, running in unison along the route where it all started. It was nostalgic and we felt the welcome and remembered the “cupla focal” at the briefing. We enjoyed the encouragement en route, the herd of deer, and we marvelled at the organisation in the ginormous finish funnel with scrumptious brownies and shamrock cookies in abundance. As we chatted over coffee in the Pheasantry, the feeling was unanimous, for a huge parkrun Bushy Park made us feel at home and we were all thrilled that we had made the trip.
When we returned home, stories of a weekend well spent echoed around Tralee’s town park and hardly 48 hours had passed before Tralee parkrunners on Tour had two more trips in their sites: Berlin (next November) and Banstead Woods to visit our parkrun daddy Don, in April. This is what parkrun is all about, friends who run and having fun. Thank you to parkrun and presenting partners, Vhi for setting the Tralee parkrun tourists lose via your competition! The craic has only begun! Watch this space.
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