As I prepared to write this report I didn’t think we had any “milestones” – individuals who have completed 50 or 100 Park Runs- this week, and I had primed myself to extol the virtues of “first timers”. A scan of the results showed me that we did have a memorable “milestone” but mercifully the person concerned had the good grace to fit in with the “first timers” theme. So, conflict and confusion hopefully averted on we go with the weekly roundup.

They say the first step is the hardest, or the journey to the start line is harder than the journey to the finish line. The truth in these words of wisdom hit home to me, pretty much for the first time, today as I reflected on the journey Beara AC’s  small group of “Couch 2 5K” participants went on to work up to a 5k run. The training required dedication and commitment and most of all consistency. Training in all weathers, including the famous heatwave, to steadily build their fitness. I reflected on the challenge of that first day at a running group, the first anxious minutes of jogging, the first mile, and the first Park Run. There are so many distractions and diversions, competing priorities and reasons to just give it up.

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First timers, it would appear, are often the unsung heroes, whose achievement of getting to the start line is typically overshadowed by that of their more experienced colleagues. As a regular report writer, I am a guilty of this as anyone … so I am taking this opportunity to atone, and put the first timers in the spotlight!

Today was a day to salute the first time volunteers as well as runners! Well done to Race Director Audrey Murphy who really needed a loud hailer to get the attention of all 174 participants. She was accompanied by visiting volunteers including three of the family Killen – Michael, Mary and Peter. What a day to be Race Director for the first time. 174, for statistics fans, is only 7 short of our highest ever attendance, so maybe that particular record will go next week. Of those registered, 30 were first timers, and I expect there were significantly more unofficial first timers – so a good number of people to be organised into an orderly “run-scan-scone” conveyor belt!

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One record that did fall this week was the SW18-19 record to first-timer and first female Anna Camps in 21.21. Superb! It was not only Anna’s first time at the Bere Island event, but her first Park Run.  First finishing male was also a first-timer this week – James Kelly of Castlecomer Athletics Club in 18.12, another superb time … unfortunately for James that SM30-34 is a very competitive category.

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Running conditions today were very good – a little sticky- but the sea was like a mirror and the wind was still. The clouds that threatened rain stayed off and the sun came out just in time for us to sit outside to enjoy our coffee. Great conditions for first timers, with no surprises.

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The results reflected those conditions and there were 17 PBs!! This report is already too long for me to mention them all but Traolach is seemingly getting faster every week, Tony Macnamara wants a piece of the action at the top of the VM65-69 category and David O’Driscoll of Beara AC significantly improved on his best … all try to remember what you had for breakfast!

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The final-first timer to mention is Kieron Campion, visiting from the UK, who achieved his 100 Park Run milestone with us on Bere Island. We hope you enjoyed it and it was suitably memorable!

From someone on their 100th Park Run to someone doing her first, I have to reiterate my congratulations to Emer O’Neill who “graduated” from the Beara AC “couch25k” programme. I hope that Emer and the others of the group that couldn’t make it today, continue to enjoy running and all the joys it brings. Thanks also to Breda O’Sullivan, first time run leader and coach, a real asset to Beara AC.

Congratulations must also go to those volunteers that organised the very successful Bere Island Sailing week this week and best of luck to all involved in the forthcoming festival and regatta. There’s loads to get involved with – so consider throwing your hat in the ring, and maybe trying something for the first time.

Finally, our thanks to the supporters and volunteers who probably struggle to remember, and possibly rue (!), the first time they were involved with Park Run – the core team of tireless volunteers, the Bake House, and Bere Island Ferries – who welcome and accommodate everyone, no matter how many show up on the day! Fingers crossed for a record-breaking number nest week. I can’t wait to do it all again!

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