Ciaran McNamee is a regular face at both Highbury Fields & Hackney Marshes parkruns, as well as Highbury Fields junior parkrun. He has run 166 parkruns in total and completed 68 volunteer tasks at 48 parkruns/junior parkruns.
When & where did you start parkrunning?
I did my first parkrun at Stormont in Belfast in August 2016. My friends Michael and Fiona encouraged me to come along. By early 2017 I was a parkrun regular.
What prompted you to join parkrun?
I signed up a few months before I did my first parkrun. I saw friends post pictures from their runs on Saturday mornings and thought that it looked like a positive start to the weekend - but it took a while to actually make it out of bed.
What did you think after your first parkrun?
I thought I was going to be sick! The last stretch was a 1/2 km straight and the finish line looked a lot closer than it actually was. I foolishly tried for a sprint finish. Once I caught my breath I was really pleased.
What’s your most memorable parkrun?
I really enjoyed doing Grovelands in the snow in February 2019. It was one of those days where you question your life choices before you set off because it is so cold! Once I warmed up it was a lot of fun. The course was re-routed and became a cross-country because of ice on the paths and volunteers had tambourines and were cheering everyone on. They were amazing.
What do you like most about parkrun?
I love the parkrun ethos of inclusivity. There's a total lack of cynicism surrounding parkrun. Everyone is welcome and everyone gets something out of it. I've run at events in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Norway and Poland. It's a fantastic community.
Volunteering at parkrun & junior parkrun - your thoughts?
Volunteering is a great way to become part of a parkrun community. Most of my volunteer roles have been at Highbury Fields junior parkrun. After volunteering a few times, I started being recognised on Saturday mornings by people who take their children to junior parkrun on Sundays. Volunteering is probably why I know more people at Highbury than at any other parkrun.
How are you coping without parkrun?
I really miss parkrun. It's been such a positive part of my life for the last four years. I've kept running a few times a week since lockdown. I still enjoy it, but I miss getting an email with my time, seeing people and going for a coffee afterwards.
Any other thoughts?
I ran at Hackney Marshes the week before events were cancelled. I remember someone saying "I think this might be the last one for a while," but I don't think anyone expected it would be gone for this long. I support the decision that parkrun took to keep everyone safe and I hope we'll all be back parkrunning together soon.