Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Deptartment of Health announce €100,000 grant for parkrun in Ireland

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Deptartment of Health announce €100,000 grant for parkrun in Ireland

On Wednesday the 27th of May, the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar announced that the Healthy Ireland section of the Department of Health and the HSE have awarded a grant of €100,000 to parkrun Ireland, as part of the new partnership which also involves Athletics Ireland, the Irish Sports Council and Phillip Lee Solicitors.

Every week parkrun organises a free 5k run at 29 venues across Ireland in parkland surroundings. Thanks to this new partnership, up to six new parkrun events are now being planned which will effectively make it a nationwide initiative, with a run starting in Killarney and Dundalk next weekend, and others to follow in Athlone, Limerick city and Cork city. A new run started recently in New Ross, Poppintree, Sligo, Hartstown, Cabbinteely, and a junior parkrun for 4-14 year olds is also planned.

New parkruns for Cork and Limerick City

Minister Varadkar said: “parkrun offers fantastic opportunities for people to take part in a 5k run in a fun and positive environment. It’s a dream initiative for any aspiring runner. You simply log on, download your number, and take part in a 5k run in your local park. Your time is recorded and you can compare your progress from week to week. It couldn’t be easier and it’s all free of charge.

“parkrun is already available in 29 locations around Ireland and up to six new events are now being planned under this new partnership. I’m delighted that parkrun is going to be supported by Healthy Ireland because it’s very effective and has a proven success rate. People who are active are more likely to live healthy and happy lives. I really want to encourage more people to be physically active in Ireland and this is a great way to do just that.”

Almost 37,000 participants have run 1,000,000 km in parkrun events at 29 locations around Ireland since it started here in 2012. Originally launched in the UK, there have been a total of 1.5 million registrations worldwide, with 100,000 participants taking part weekly in 12 (soon 14) countries. It’s now the single biggest running participation event on the planet.  And its growth in Ireland has been the most dramatic of all.

In welcoming the new partnership, Matt Shields, parkrun Ireland country manager said: “There is something about the parkrun ethos of family and community that fits well with the Irish culture and when you add the support we have received at all levels from government to grass roots, it is hardly surprising that parkrun in Ireland has been such a success. In two years, we have established 29 events to date with six more coming soon and the prospect of junior parkrun for 4-14 year olds also close. People of all ages, gender and ability now have a new weekly free friendly pathway to activity. I am sure that with the support of Healthy Ireland, The Irish Sports Council, Athletics Ireland and our latest commercial supporter Philip Lee we will see much more of the same through 2015-16. “

John Foley, the CEO of Athletics Ireland also welcomed today’s announcement saying: “Athletics Ireland is delighted to partner with parkrun as it grows throughout Ireland. We see parkrun as an ideal way for people of all ages to get involved in exercise through running in a friendly non-competitive environment. Many of the Athletics Ireland clubs are volunteering every week to assist with the runs and a number of the participants are joining their club Fit4Life groups which meet regularly. We look forward to a long-term relationship with parkrun as we work together to get people active and healthy”.

John Treacy, CEO of the Irish Sports Council said: “The Irish Sports Council are delighted to support the parkrun initiative. Our aim is to encourage participation across Ireland, across all ages and abilities and remove barriers that prevent participation in sport. Through our National Network of Local Sports Partnerships, we have been able to support parkrun events across the Country and provide opportunities for more people to be more active, more often.”

Alice Whittaker, Partner in Philip Lee said: “Philip Lee is delighted to be one of the main supporters of parkrun in Ireland.  We have a strong ethos of encouraging the promotion of sport, health, community and positive initiatives within the firm.  As a fantastic community based initiative, parkrun is the perfect fit for Philip Lee which is full of avid runners and sport fans.”

Dr Cate Hartigan, Assistant National Director Health Promotion and Improvement in the HSE also welcomed today’s announcement saying: “We are delighted to continue to support parkrun in 2015 and to make it part of our Healthy Ireland programme. Encouraging more communities to be active and to see the enormous benefits that this can bring, is one of the most important changes that we all want to see in Ireland. We are really looking forward to continue working with parkrun to support the community participation and volunteering that is an essential element of the initiative and which adds greatly to our overall health and wellbeing in Ireland.”

Minister Varadkar concluded by saying: “I want to pay tribute to this new parkrun partnership between the public service, the corporate sector, the community and voluntary sector and a national sporting organisation. This initiative supports and empowers people to make positive change towards making Ireland a healthier place to live and also to help in action towards realising the vision of a Healthy Ireland.”

The map below shows the current parkruns in Munster. By the end of 2015, there should be 9 up and running in the province.


Anonymous said...

Any idea on where the Cork City one is going to be?

Anonymous said...

Terrific news! Well done Leo.

I think the problem for any Park Run in Cork City is that it will be TOO popular (if the John Buckley 5k is anything to go by). Given the population of Cork and the popularity of running in Cork, I think it would make a lot of sense to have 2 in the city.

Anonymous said...

This is great news. Looking ofrward to the Limerick Parkrun.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to see government money going towards a private company to set up these things when they will take a lot of money away from club events. Clubs that provide coaching and community for people to be a part of. Theres only 50 or 60 people going to the ones in Macroom and Clonakilty from what I can see and its possibly the same 50 or 60 people.
Its the same thing as if a club did a timetrial as part of their training once a week and got 7 or 8000 euro per year for doing it... except for the fact that the money doesn't go back into the sport or club but goes back into the pockets of Parkrun Ltd.
Parkruns are great but they should be able to stand on their own two feet. They should have to play by the same rules as already established clubs have to play by. Why does the permit system not apply to these?
There is no real difference between the Parkruns and the likes of the Cheetah Run, John Buckley 5k, Doneraile 5k, other Business house 5k/6k races, etc. The only real difference is that the clubs and business house races self-fund but this is a private business getting government money which takes money off of clubs! Its not just about money being taken off of clubs but there are a lot of very worthy charities who organise events and this will impact their ability to raise funds for worthy causes in an already busy calendar.
I am all for providing a welcoming easy-going environment for new runners and think that side of the parkrun is great but its very frustrating to see this being welcomed in without question and put in place by people who don't fully understand our sport. Athletics Ireland have to play ball with the politicians who want the positive publicity to ensure they continue to get their own grant assistance from government.
I'd encourage all clubs to consider the impact these will have on their ability to organise events and promote their own events. Reading message boards in the UK - you can see that some clubs have been seriously affected by parkruns being set up in their local area because of the impact they have had on their fundraising ability. I will admit that there are possibly some positives for these things but the whole model and how its done is questionable. John, you might do some investigation and provide information on where the money goes? e.g. the money goes towards the timing systems - but does the company that sells the timing systems have any links to parkrun? i.e. all the money goes to one company for significant profit by one individual/individuals?

John Desmond said...

"Theres only 50 or 60 people going to the ones in Macroom and Clonakilty from what I can see and its possibly the same 50 or 60 people."

Some stats on the real numbers.

The Macroom parkrun was set up in May 2013 and to date, 1098 people have taken part in it.
Clonakilty started in February 2014 and 676 people have done it.
The Bere Island parkrun started in August 2014 and 293 people have taken part.

Anonymous said...

Some serious paranoia re funding. I can think of nothing more encouraging for people to take part than for it to be free to participate. It also helps for those on low incomes or unemployed to take part.

Clubs should not feel threatened (unless they see their grants, if they get them, go down). There are plenty of other distances for clubs to organise races for.

Charities could organise a 6k too, which would encourage those who have done a 5k to step up a notch to a slightly higher distance. Besides, some (a small number I hope) of the 'charity' races have notoriously been shown to take a tiny percentage of the overall profit. I'm sure there was an article on it in the last year or so.