Rathwood venue for fastest growing recreational global exercise programme

Rathwood, outside Tullow on the borders of Carlow and Wicklow, is the first venue in Carlow to offer a ParkRun. ParkRun is a global organisation of fun runners and walkers who meet every Saturday morning to cover 5km. In Ireland most counties now boast one ParkRun with Dublin having several. ParkRuns are supported by sponsors and run by volunteers.

In Ireland the sponsors are VHI and the HSE. Each centre has its own set of local volunteers. In the ParkRun at Rathwood, called Tullow ParkRun, the organisation was initiated by the County Carlow Local Sports Partnership under the Sport Ireland.  Martha Jane Duggan, officer with County Carlow Local Sports Partnership, was the key driver in the placement of the run.

‘There are a number of guidelines set down by the global organisation,’ explains Martha Jane. ‘The run or walk is free each week, only 5km in length and may not be over more than three laps. It must also be in a green area and it must run every Saturday at 930am.’

Patrick Keogh, owner at Rathwood, is delighted to find a positive weekly use for the woods around Rathwood. ‘We actually own 20 acres but we lease a further 70 from Coilte,’ says Patrick. ‘We are putting in place a fabulous walk cum run for people to enjoy the fabulous woodland around our centre. I grew up here as a boy and enjoying herding cattle and generally running around these fields. It is super to see them populated with happy, laughing families and friends out enjoying the fresh air and beautiful countryside.’

Martha Jane has been watching the growing numbers of people attending the Tullow ParkRun. ‘Last week we pipped the hundred mark and it is growing week on week.

‘Another benefit of staging the ParkRun here at Rathwood is that we have ample parking and comfort facilities. It is primarily a social run or walk so people gravitate to the restaurant afterwards to have a coffee or sometimes a breakfast – a well-deserved breakfast,’ she says.

Martha Jane is very grateful to the support of Patrick and his family. ‘They allow us to leave up the signs week on week which cuts down on setup work for the volunteers. They also placed a hut at the start so that we can mind the kit of the volunteers which will come in handy if the weather is inclement,’ she says.

Anyone can take part in the Park Run at Tullow. It is advised to register in advance at www.parkrun.ie to obtain a barcode. This is used to log the walker / runner’s time but it is not obligatory.

People wishing to participate arrive before 930am. At 925am volunteers move people to the start and give a short talk, notably on health and safety as well as looking for volunteers going forward. There are marshals along the route. In Rathwood the 5km takes place over two laps, both of which clearly signposted. At the finish, participants are given a token. They hand this to an official with their barcode and their time is then clocked and may be viewed online.

Going for a number of months, the Tullow Parkrun is fast becoming a regular venue for family and friends. As Patrick and Martha Jane are keen to say – Everyone is welcome!

October 30, 2023 — Chisom Onwukwe

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