Confessions of a Parkrun-a-holic!

Many orienteers will know Josh O’Sullivan Hourihan (or Josh OSH) as a regular and passionate orienteer at events around the country as well as representing Ireland on the World Orienteering Stage, Josh also participates in cross country and endurance races, here and abroad. Here Josh confesses of his addiction for the humble, weekly Park Run!

For those of you who may not be familiar with the Parkrun concept it is a free, weekly, timed 5km in parks all around Ireland (and the world). It’s a great way to meet new people, make friends, there is always a great buzz around them and, like orienteering, they are suitable for all ages and all abilities whether you run, jog or walk. All you have to do is register online once, have your barcode printed out and be ready to go for 0930 when someone says go, it really is that simple!

I ran my first Parkrun in 2016 in Tramore Valley Park, Cork, and in October of this year I became a member of the 50 Parkrun club which entitles you to a special parkrun t-shirt and also, at Waterstown Parkrun (my local) anyway, celebratory cake – which as we all know is the most important part! My coach and I treat Parkrun as a fun threshold/tempo session and I run it before breakfast and on tired legs depending on the weeks training load. If you want to be competitive it is always a good challenge to try and make it into the top10 fastest times in Ireland on a Saturday. Normally anything under 16:45 will get you in there.

I would say Parkrun has been a key “workout” in setting new 5km (15.24) and 10km (31.47) PBs this year. It has acted as a gauge of where I am physically during a training block on the same course throughout a year. For example in 2018 I averaged 17:49 (19 runs) on the Waterstown course with a best of 16:51 and in 2019 I have averaged 16:59 (21 runs) with a best of 16:04. But also, seeing other parkrunners out having fun, being active, improving and setting new PBs throughout the year, no matter what pace they are going, is something fantastic to feel a part of.

As well as running it regularly I have also volunteered to help with pre-event set up, which I can use as part of my warm up, and bar-code scanning. Volunteering is an integral part of the Parkrun culture and it’s a fun way to pass a Saturday morning and give back to the running community. This keeps the event going, makes sure everybody gets to run and is a great way to meet people and be part of the Parkrun family.

Waterstown Parkrun recently had the Parkwalk initiative to get people out and active on Saturday mornings and on the 1st Parkrun of each month  they organise pacers for different times, and if there are extra volunteer pacers there are personal pacers, for anyone looking to run a specific time. I’m sure other Parkruns do similar to keep everyone motivated no matter what their goal is. There are also junior Parkruns becoming more common around Ireland and these are 2km and are suitable for the 4-15yrs age group.

Parkrun has grown globally and is something you can do even when on a trip abroad. I’ve run the Tokoinranta Parkrun (Helsinki) twice and I briefly held the course record. It is on my to-do list to go and get it back, currently it sits at 16:18. I’ve also done Parkruns in exotic locations like Navan, Athlone and Castlerea!

Parkrun is free, for everyone and forever so you’ve no excuse not to lace up and get out!

Find a Parkrun near you here!

And don’t forget to print your barcode & register under your orienteering club too!

Many thanks to Josh for his confession !

You can follow Josh on Instagram ,social media and Strava too (if you really want to feel inadequate ;))

Orienteering in Ireland
Orienteering Ireland, Irish Sport HQ, Blanchardstown
D15 DY62, Ireland