News - 16th October 2019

Proinnsias O’Keeffe couldn’t run for two minutes. Now with 173 parkruns under his belt, he tells us his parkrun story.


I first became aware of parkrun in 2013. The friends that we were staying with were going out to do a 5k run at 9.30am on a Saturday morning – I was going to recover from a hangover!


I went down to Marlay Park to see them finish and meet up with other friends. A year later I heard that parkrun was coming to Bere Island as a follow on from a very successful RTÉ Operation Transformation group.


I participated (i.e. walked!) in the first Bere Island event in August 2014.


A week or two later I went to Castle Demense parkrun in Macroom because that was then the nearest to where I stay when not on the Island.


The company where I was working at the time started a couch to 5k (or desk to 5k as they called it!) I couldn’t run for more than two minutes and then not up any hill.


After two Cto5k programs I finally ran the 5k without walking at my 70th (yes seventieth!) parkrun. Thanks to Jessica who was pacing 35 minutes at Ballincollig parkrun.


My parkrun count now stands at 173 but I still know nobody would notice if I walked for a bit.


On the volunteer side I’ve done almost every role. Last year on one crazy weekend I did the Cork Airport 5k and guided a visually impaired athlete at parkrun the following morning.


I was terrified at having responsibility for another athlete but Léan was so encouraging that I decided to try to get a team of visually impaired athletes to do the relay at Cork City Marathon! We had two teams of VI athletes and two teams of guides who were absolutely amazing and so encouraging.


Outside of parkrun I have done a few other races now mainly 5ks but also a couple of 10ks and half marathons.


The people that I have banter with at those races are nearly all parkrunners and they help to shorten the distance.


Even though it took me 70 parkruns to do the 5k without walking, my favourite volunteer role is tail walker because you meet the most amazing people taking on some really personal challenges in that role.


If I can run 5k without walking, almost anyone can! Just get in 30 minutes of walking twice a week between Saturdays and you’ll do it too.


Proinnsias O’Keeffe


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