Dungloe parkrun, Donegal

Dungloe parkrun route map, with view of two loughs
Dungloe parkrun route. 3 anti-clockwise laps.

Dungloe parkrun is on the outskirts of the town, at the River Walk. Parking is free, over the road at Lidl, there are no toilets and the surface is good. The paths are gravel rather than tarmac, so watch your footing a little bit, but it’s not prone to ice, water or tree roots. It’s not completely flat, but there are no serious inclines.

Me, running; long grass and trees behind
Me at the final corner.

The markings needed for the course are minimal, and the start and finish posts are permanent, along with a sign advertising the event at the entrance to the walk. It can run with minimal volunteers, so long as everyone knows to turn right at the final turn twice, then left on the third lap, over the bridge to the finish. It’s very simple, though there is a tempting path just before that turn, taking you through a stream. That also leads to the finish, and one or two have taken that route.

With two loughs off to the side, and a big clump of trees in the middle of the loop, it is very scenic, particularly on a clear, bright day. It was cold, but the views compensated.

This was my actually second attempt at the run. Last week’s ended dramatically for us all, but ultimately with a happy outcome. As I came round on my second lap I saw a group of people up ahead. Only when I got near did I realise a runner was performing compressions on another, who was flat-out. I’ll spare you the details, but we all gathered and hung around together, doing whatever we could, as paramedics arrived. The course can just about fit an ambulance, so he was taken away, and we all re-grouped – to no great effect, but not wanting to just walk home – in the local supermarket car park as they brought in a coastguard helicopter to airlift him out. Happily, he was discharged from hospital in the week, and is now recovering, and promising to come and walk the course as part of that.

There was no such drama this week, and we were all glad to layer a happy memory on top of a traumatic one. The run director said that in the week she was done with the whole thing, but wouldn’t have missed today, nor future events, for anything. It’s a small event – 22 finishers today – but one with a warm welcome and a lovely community feel.

The Run Director did a great job of talking to everyone and also including us all in various combinations for photos at the end:

Results from Dungloe parkrun no. 189, 30/11/19.

Pont y Bala parkrun, Wales

Pont y Bala parkrun route
Pont y Bala parkrun route; a double out-and-back.

Bala, site of many a family holiday for those based in the North of England. I was not one such, being a Southerner, but I’ve been told of it many times, and was curious to see the place. The town is just another town, but the lake – it’s all about the lake. Stunning on a good day, though I had to assume that, as this was a pretty grey day.

Bala Lake
Bala Lake. You’re not far from the parkrun course here, albeit not actually on it.

A quick word of warning, too. If you tell some of those Northerners that you have visited “Barla”, they will look at you quizzically, and wonder where that is. Say “Bala”, with a short a, and they’ll know immediately. Go on, try it out.

The run itself is a simple one, on a good surface. The surrounding grass was boggy after days of rain and drizzle, but the course was perfectly fine in the skimpiest of road trainers. Hard packed, with a scattering of pebbles – it’d be alright with a buggy, if congested, but I wouldn’t try it barefoot.

Pont y Bala course
Pont y Bala course. Looking towards the lake (though I didn’t spot it while running).

The course is a simple out-and-back, that you do twice (so 1.25km each way). The path isn’t the widest, so either settle in, or make sure you’re near the front if you want to shoot off. Passing is easiest on the outward stretch, before anyone turns and comes back towards you, though with relatively small numbers, it’s far from impossible through the rest of the event. Just be nice.

The finish line. The gate is closed after the event
The finish line. The gate is closed after the event.

Parking is available right by the event, £2 for four hours. I was happy to pay and then explore the town afterwards; a tiny contribution to the place. I spotted some free parking near the lake, and the place isn’t that large, so there are probably residential options, too. Some headed further into the industrial estate, perhaps because they could park there.

Afterwards, they head to a cafe just over the road and down a side path/road (about where “Get Wet” adventure company is marked on the map), but I took myself off round town, stumbling across the lake and immediately seeing why people drag (er, bring) their kids here. I also stumbled back onto the course. I hadn’t realised that the first turnaround point, 1.25km in, is very close to the lake. You will probably be less clueless, but from the lake I walked the whole length of the course again, in reverse, and only spotted I was on it when back at the car park.

Pont y Bala is also one of the four runs that count towards the “Full Ponty” achievement on the Running Challenges add-on, which will pull in a small stream of extra tourists. But numbers are manageable and the out-and-back nature means you can grin, gurn or give thumbs up to as much of the rest of the field as you want.

Results from event 32, Pont y Bala parkrun, 19/11/2019.

Start a Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑