News - 17th February 2020

People of parkrun brought to you by Vhi


Name: Claire Ryan

Age: 30

Occupation: Trainee Solicitor

Local parkrun: Waterstown

Number of parkruns completed: 14


How did you get involved in parkrun?

My running guide, Nanda, first alerted me to parkrun a few years ago. She thought it would be a good way for me to incorporate another training session into the week and also would help me to push forward in trying to best my 5K speed in a relatively relaxed running environment.



What do you love about parkrun?

What struck me immediately when taking part in my first parkrun is that there is a great community spirit attached to the concept. This is likely due to the fact that parkrun is very much steeped in the local area. People are also very encouraging of each other regardless of the type of goal a person may be aiming for.  



Who do you participate with?

As I am vision impaired, I run with a guide, Nanda. We’ve known each other for over 3 years now and have built up a great relationship over that time, both in terms of our unique running skills and also by way of the friendship we have. We run together with the aid of a looped rope, each of us holding an end in one hand. This enables us to run side by side and allows me the freedom to run (almost) as freely as everyone else. Communication is obviously a major part of how we operate and the level of trust between us is immense – Nanda will tell me when we need to switch directions or when there is uneven ground ahead so that I can alter my speed, running style, etc. The system we have is great as it allows me to gain all the benefits of participating in regular exercise – be they physical or mental – that every other runner experiences.



Any parkrun milestones / achievements you would like to share?

I remember completing a parkrun a few years ago when the ground was quite slippery due to thawing ice. The quality of the running surface that day really tested us as we went around the course – we both had to employ a level of skill and communication above and beyond what was usual for us to make sure we didn’t slip.



How has parkrun impacted positively on your family outside of 9:30am on a Saturday?

Taking part in parkrun definitely puts me in a good mood on a Saturday, which probably results in my being more easy-going and relaxed when around family and friends.



Do you have a health or fitness goal?

I definitely want to run more frequently each week and build up my fitness even more. Too many of us spend too long at our desks working late – I’m certainly guilty of this – when it would be better for us to get out and about, even just for a light jog to ease stress and other negative feelings. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had a problem on my mind that was solved or even just seemed a lot easier to deal with after a run.



Who is your dream parkrun running buddy?

I’m an avid rugby fan (Munster – I am originally from Cork) and would pick Ronan O’Gara, former Munster and Ireland fly-half. I listen to O’Gara a lot on radio these days as he provides rugby analysis on the Irish clubs and our national team. I find he has great insight and I always learn a lot from him whenever he’s being interviewed (A lot of former sports stars turn out to be quite poor when asked to analyse their sport post-retirement). Since hanging up his rugby boots, O’Gara has become a rugby coach – he’s currently head coach at Top 14 side La Rochelle in France. If I were ever to do a parkrun with him, I’d love to find out more about his coaching principles as well as his thoughts on rugby tactics for the upcoming Six Nations Championship.



What was your best parkrun experience?

I think completing my first parkrun was possibly my favourite experience as I knew I’d found an event I could go to at weekends to help improve my running and get to know a brand new group of people.



What was the funniest parkrun moment?

I remember finishing a parkrun one week and a person I knew at the time from my daily commute came up to me to say hello. We instinctively hugged straight off – I think we were both in great form due to the post-parkrun endorphins; plus, we didn’t’ expect to see each other out of our normal environment. It was probably bizarre for the people around us to see though!



What advice would you give to someone who’s never been to parkrun?

Go along on a Saturday, even just to walk the course. You’ll meet a lot of new people as well as getting out in the fresh air for some exercise. Everyone is very friendly and nobody takes themselves too seriously. I’d definitely recommend it.

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