Name: Brighid Smyth
Occupation: Head of Corporate Communication, Vhi
Local parkrun: St Anne’s parkrun
Number of parkruns completed: 83 in 16 locations
How did you get involved in parkrun?
I ran my first parkrun on the 28 September 2013. At the time I was training for the 2013 Dublin City Marathon and wanted to try a fast (for me) 5K, one month out from the marathon. I ran a PB of 23.10, a PB I am chasing ever since!
What do you love about parkrun?
parkrun is simply a wonderful movement. I feel very lucky that my job with Vhi has brought me to so many amazing parkrun locations around the country, witnessing first hand the comradery and community spirit working to bring parkrun to people once a week, in 92 locations, 52 weeks of the year.
Who do you participate with?
Generally close to 500 people in St Anne’s Park on a Saturday, a truly diverse and inclusive community where anyone and everyone is welcome. You are never on your own! I run with friends, family, work colleagues and, Raheny Shamrock Club Mates.
Any parkrun milestones / achievements you would like to share?
Through my participation in parkrun and my work with Vhi I have had the pleasure of meeting and running with Olympians and Vhi parkrun ambassadors including David Gillick, Sonia O’Sullivan and Mick Clohisey. These are truly treasured moments!
How has parkrun impacted positively on your family outside of 9:30am on a Saturday?
I am very fortunate because I live very near the wonderful St Anne’s Park and generally we walk or jog to parkrun. I love my Saturday mornings, parkrun, coffee and a scone and a satisfying walk home ready to start the weekend. It really sets up the week and when I don’t parkrun I miss it.
Do you have a health or fitness goal?
When I was 39, eyeing 40 on the horizon I decided to embrace fitness. I tried running, liked it, and ran with “the Clontarf Mafia “(a ladies running collective in Clontarf) for a number of years before joining Raheny Shamrock, a fantastic club which welcomes runners of all abilities. Since then I have run 10 marathons and earlier this year completed my sixth Marathon Major in Tokyo.
Who is your dream parkrun running buddy?
That’s an easy one! I introduced my nephew Oscar to parkrun and for some time coaxed, cajoled and encouraged him around the early ones – eventually he passed me out in Brickfields parkrun! That was a truly satisfying if not soul-destroying day.
What was your best parkrun experience?
I like volunteering at parkrun; you get to see the true meaning of the event. I love to look at the faces of all the participants, each one tells a different story of individual goals, sheer grit and determination. So , whether you finish in the top tier, spent, falling over the line, or you take part simply to catch up with friends run ,walk and talk or you finish near the end ,goosed, but truly elated- It really doesn’t matter . You did it!
These events would not happen without the dedicated volunteers, so volunteer once in a while, it’s very rewarding.
What was the funniest parkrun moment?
Setting up a photocall for St Anne’s parkrun with a large boisterous pup called Archie (you know who you are …a resident of Clontarf), who didn’t play ball!
What advice would you give to someone who’s never been to parkrun?
Give it a go! Register and download your bar code from the website (www.parkrun.ie), print it and bring it along. Put on the runners and show up at 9.20 am for a 9.30am start. Follow the crowd.
On the rare occasion when your parkrun does not happen, be a parkrun tourist and support a smaller one in the locality. Recently a group from St Anne’s parkrun went to Darndale parkrun. We were warmly welcomed by the fabulous Run Director, the Volunteers and local Gardai, all working hard to make this run a success.
In the absence of parkrun during the Covid-19 pandemic, we are looking back at some of the events Vhi visited throughout the years as parkrun’s partner. Back in 2019, the Vhi parkrun roadshow visited Templemore parkrun, Co Tipperary. It was an incredible day as the parkrunners were joined by Olympian and Vhi ambassador David…
Francie Arthurs is one of the most treasured parkrunners at Falls parkrun in Belfast. Run Director, Debbie Walsh, tells us his inspirational story. If you have ever had the fortune of visiting Falls parkrun in Belfast you will no doubt have met our very own, homegrown legend, Francie Arthurs. Picture this, a…