Sophie Cements a Stunning PB at Parkrun

Race Report by Siobhan Grant

It was a very damp Saturday morning lakeside for the weekly run out at Castlewellan Parkrun. The sky probably still drying its eyes after losing an hours sleep last weekend.

None the less, with the tagline of ‘you only get wet once’, many of the Newcastle AC Juniors, their parents and a few of the Junior Coaches brought along their own sunshine in the form of their smiles and toed the line under the watchful eye of Race Director, Joe McCann.

As the race brief got underway, many of the runners, who, still half asleep, were sent into momentary panic as a convincing Mr McCann outlined that the precourse check had resulted in the need for the normal course to be rerouted due to a fallen tree on the infamous Crow Road, pausing long enough for runners to feel the fear of running up the hill to the Castle. Soon he finishing off his announcement indicating that we would be running Slievenaslat, eventually the penny dropped and everyone caught on it was just a very convincing April Fools joke. Thankfully.

With heart rates dropping rapidly after realising everything was as expected, the 138 runners headed along the tarmac towards the trail of the lake in the mizzly rain.

The lake offered plenty of opportunities for runners, prams and dogs to embrace a mud treatment followed by a puddle bath at various points around the route.  Crow Road, minus the phantom fallen tree, offered ample opportunities for such and would result in many erring on the side of caution as they embraced the downhill as it was pretty spongey underfoot.

It was the slight but determined frame of Emily who lead the Kerr cohort across the line in 23.49.

The forever improving and the dark horse of the household Sophie stayed focused throughout and emerged from amongst a field of grown adults to secure herself a well earned PB of 26.27. With dad Graham watching from a few places back, I’m sure he too realised that we definitely have ourselves a mountain goat on our hands PBing by over a minute on a dreadful underfoot route.

Lily McMurray was on form as she glided effortlessly downhill on Crow Road. She has been enjoying plenty of miles around the park over the Winter through all weathers and continues to grow in confidence.

Aoife Grants pony tail worked the whole way around the 5k and on spotting the finish line she made an impression, nearly in the finish post as she fought for place right to the line and nearly taking the post with her through the finishing funnel in 30.45.

She was soon followed by the pairing of Cuan McMurray and Luke McDonald who put the final 400m in together, encouraging each other on and crossing the line in 32.41 and 32.42 respectfully.

Some say parkrun is what you make it, some like to go out and PB, others just go for the craic and enjoy just being out. The latter could be said of Rowan Bailey, Seb McCaughey and Rónán Grant on Saturday morning. The lads fancied using Parkrun for a bit of craic and banter on the move. It wasn’t until the final mile that they decided to move up the gears and stretch the legs a bit more and make their mark against each other. But that’s the thing about Parkrun, it isn’t always a race, don’t me wrong, it’s a great opportunity to empty the tank and challenge yourself and measure improvement however for many it is about being out there with the parkrun family and getting the steps in, at your own pace and a few laughs along the way. For one coach, it’s also about how far away from the tailwalker they can get this week. As always, moving is improving.

Taking it home for the Newcastle Juniors was wee Charlotte Kerr who declared on Crow Road that her wee legs were tired. Given that this is only official parkrun number 3 for the newly turned 4 year old, learning to come to terms with Crow Road, especially when it’s a huge bog, will take a wee while to get used to. Yet crossing the line in 50.49 is an amazing effort from the youngster and flanked by the whole family, it won’t be long before she’ll be running back to run them home.

Parkrun is a free event, run every Saturday at 9.30am right across the province. Everyone is welcome whether you’re out to break course records or only beginning your journey. Runner or walker, young or old, everyone is welcome.

The Kerr Family, regulars at Castlewellan Parkrun with over 250 parkruns between them.