Parkrun is a 5k held all across Europe and in some cities in the United States each week. In Ireland, it’s held in more than 100 communities every Saturday morning at 9:30. We participated in the Parkrun at Falcarragh, and fell in love with it. Parkrun was created almost a decade ago to promote good mental health and love of the outdoors. They’ve become quite popular since the COVID-19 pandemic because many Europeans felt isolated.
You have to register for Parkrun if you want a timed result, but registration is free. You are given a barcode to print and wear. Parkrun isn’t really a race; it’s a fun run where community is more important than your time.
When we arrived at the Parkrun in Falcarragh, we were immediately greeted by the Parkrun volunteers. At least 20 people made us promise we would stay for the tea that’s held afterwards.
At the start of the race, we were recognized with raucous applause for being the runners who traveled the furthest to participate. When the run began, we were treated to a beautiful trail along mostly dirt paths and some crushed aggregate which wound through the grounds of an old convent and estate. Purple rhododendrons lined the path in some places; others wove through a dark wooded area past the ruins of several buildings.
The runners were very supportive, shouting encouraging and sometimes humorous phrases as they passed you or you passed them. The organizers joked that they would run along after us and harp on us until we sped up - at least, we thought they were joking until it actually happened!
We stayed to visit with other runners and with the volunteers for more than an hour afterwards. We even met someone with the same surname as ours, and were filled in on our family history several times by the locals. In turn, they asked questions about America, South Dakota and our trip, and had plenty of great advice about the best hiking trails in the area.