I’m a bit of a sucker for coincidences and a bit OCD too, and it was a series of loosely related coincidences that took me to Antrim parkrun today.
First of all, completing it would bring me up to exactly my 1000th mile since I started running. It would also have been my 10th parkrun and my connection with Antrim stretches back to when I moved to live there a long, long time ago when I was 10-years-old (ok, ok, I know I’m pushing it a bit now but things also have to come in sets of three! Right?)
I’ve considered doing a spot of parkrun tourism in Antrim for a little while now but when I noticed that all the above ducks were in a row it was a total no-brainer that I went today.
I don’t drive so despite Antrim being ten miles from home I could still get there quicker on the bus than I could by walking to my local parkrun, so off I popped on the 8:30am 218 Goldliner to Antrim, arriving at 8:55am and then another 20 minutes walk/run to the start, still quicker than the 40-45 minutes it’d take me to go local.
Getting to the start, it was heartening to see quite a few already there and more arriving by the second … in total 234 turned up which, I think, is the biggest parkrun I’ve been in.
I took a few pics enroute and a few more around the start area and after joining in with the newcomers briefing (a nice touch) I then made my way to the start, albeit a fair bit back. I didn’t know exactly where the line was so I just took an educated guess on when to start my Garmin … in the end I was only a fraction out, so that was good.
With such a large turnout and on a narrow path at the beginning things got a little bunched up but that was no bad thing because it stopped me from darting off too quickly. Things soon spread out, though, and I was able to get into my stride. I also ran past Parveen from my Monday night club training so it was nice to say a quick hello before letting her concentrate on her own run.
I’d only run along here once before – at the Centra Run Together event last year – so it wasn’t totally unfamiliar at the beginning but I was into uncharted territory once we turned left over the bridge and into the castle gardens for the first of two laps.
I wasn’t terribly worried about my time today, this was more about the experience, so I decided to take more pictures on the first lap before focusing more on my run on the second loop.
I lived in Antrim for seven years, leaving in 1987, so a lot of old memories came flooding back plus I don’t remember the castle gardens being as immaculate as they were today – the result being that I was stopping every minute or so to take a quick snap. It was all very pleasant … indeed the entire experience from start to finish was highly enjoyable, it was a very picturesque course.
After getting to the finish I waited for Parveen to complete her run and have a quick chat before making my way back to the bus station.
As I headed back one of the core team stopped me for a chat, I mentioned my history with Antrim and he filled in a little more detail on what has changed over the years. That was very kind of him and indicative of the friendly, relaxed nature of the entire event.
It was a great way to complete 1000 miles and to pop my tourism cherry. I’ll be back soon.