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Runners take on the hill on the return leg of the inaugural Illaunmanagh Parkrun on a beauty first day of summer along the Shannon Estuary. Photograph by Eugene McCafferty

GALLERY: Shannon breaks the tape on its first ever Parkrun

SHANNON had its first ever Parkrun last Saturday morning, with scores of people coming out for the occasion. 

Parkruns are free community-based, volunteer-led events which take place on a Saturday morning at 9:30am in many countries worldwide – Ireland has over 100 events currently.  

Rob Stephen was instrumental in establishing the Shannon one and speaking about the first local event, he said, “The sun was out, the weather was great. We had around 150 people participating and about 15 people volunteering. It went very well, there was a good crowd volunteering.

“One woman flew over from London to do it, she stayed locally in a hotel then, she’s a big enthusiast. There was a big crew from the Parkrun in Tralee, a couple came from Naas.

“Obviously there was a good few local people too and people came from the other nearby Parkruns.”

He said that the crowd won’t be as big this Saturday, but that it is hoped around 50 people will attend most weeks.

The course follows a scenic route from Illaunmanagh, showing areas of the town that many people from other places wouldn’t be familiar with.

“A lot of people wouldn’t have seen that side of Shannon, some people said it was one of the nicest courses they’d been on. It started near the crematorium, then it went along the path there, along the estuary bank, there’s a forest area there and a bit of a loop through there, then it goes around the pitches at Drumgeely and back again. It’s 2.5km out and 2.5km back again. Unless you go running up there you wouldn’t have been there. People not from Shannon wouldn’t know there’s such a nice place to go for a walk.”

With the car park close to the cemetery closed, he said that people parked at the GAA or rugby clubs, while it was close enough for many local residents to walk.

Afterwards around 50 of those who took part went to the Hope Cafe in Smithstown where they had tea and buns.

“That’s half of the whole thing, the social side of it. A lot of people walk it, and that’s perfectly fine, we encourage that. It’s all about getting out and having a bit of activity. For people new to the area it’s quite a good way to meet people,” Rob added. 

Shannon is now home to many Ukrainian refugees and he said a number had been there.

“A group of Ukrainians came down to join us which was great, and they said they’re going to try and keep coming each week. That was great.”

Rob also said that the local Tidy Towns group had played an important role in getting things ready. “The Tidy Towns were very helpful, one path needed a bit of clearing so we did that with them, and they did a litter pick up as well.

“That meant the area looked well on the Saturday morning and it was great.”

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.

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