Mary Rowan with her husband Enda and son Owen Óg

Profile of a parkrunner: Meet Mary

Mary Rowan is a regular parkrunner at Mountlucas parkrun, along with her husband Enda and son Owen óg.

When did you first complete a parkrun?

My first parkrun was with my son Owen on 1st July 2017; that was the first parkrun in Mountlucas. I have a photo of us from that event framed at home. He’s half the size he is now! I was delighted that we did 5km running together. It was 3 or 4 weeks later that my husband Enda joined us to do one. It’s always busy on a Saturday morning in the shop but he was convinced to go when he heard us raving about it. And we have done it as a family any time we have had the chance since and it’s lovely to do it together and a great way of getting the three of us up and out on a Saturday morning. Owen has done about 160 and Enda and I have each done about 140 parkruns!

What’s your favourite thing about parkrun?

There are just so many good things. It’s just brilliant that we can do it as a family. It’s fantastic that it’s timed. Even though I’m not competitive, I really enjoy that it’s timed and the awareness of what time I was doing it in, and what time I could do it in. You keep your eye on your times, and it was a great way to encourage Owen. Other great aspects are the support, the encouragement, and the friendship. It’s non-judgemental- you can run, walk, crawl it, do it with your dog and no one cares. Everyone is delighted to see you there and everyone is encouraging. I found I fell in with the same people every week, around the same speed as myself. It’s such a relaxed atmosphere but we all keep an eye on one another and encourage one another in a non-competitive way- a little bit of good-natured rivalry which is always good!

What is your favourite parkrun memory?

I have so many good parkrun memories, and so many lovely Christmas parkrun memories in particular; of crossing the finish line in Santa hats, sharing selection boxes and everyone in good humour, and having Mary Dunne’s lemon drizzle cake. But one of my absolute favourite parkrun memories was doing a parkrun in New Zealand with my best friend Teresa. To be able to go over there and see the set up and routine all the very same, it was like a little bit of home away from home. And that’s what’s brilliant, that there are so many parkruns in Ireland and so many parkruns around the world. The consistency of it is comforting and being able to connect with people over shared interests. I’d have to say, probably because it was over the other side of the world, doing that with Teresa was very, very special to me. Now the ones I’ve done with Owen and Enda are special too but doing one on the other side of the world made that one significant.

Mary's favourite parkrun experience in New Zealand.
Mary's first parkrun with son Owen Óg.

What words would you use to describe Montlucas parkrun?

When I think of Mountlucas parkrun, the words that come to mind are refreshing, motivating, supportive, fun and warm. On a Saturday morning you’re so glad you got up out of bed and did it. We’re very lucky with the wide track at Mountlucas parkrun, everyone can do it comfortably, with dogs, with children, and nobody gets held back. It’s lovely to see people come from all over the country to it. We can take for granted the natural landscape of Mountlucas and the rich history of the bogs and Bord na Móna. It’s very motivating because it’s timed and you keep an eye on the speed you’re doing. Some weeks you’re on form and others you’re not. The support and encouragement from people along the way is a huge part of that motivation. It’s a little world of its own really, and it’s great to be a part of it. There can be anything from 50 to 100 people out there on Saturday morning, and the volunteers and everyone gives their time so freely. There is a wonderful community of volunteers without whom the parkrun wouldn’t be possible, and I think Kevin Curran who coordinates the volunteer roster on a weekly basis deserves a special mention. The three of us volunteer regularly but this year Owen's volunteering at Parkrun contributes to him achieving his Gaisce Award. He is one of many students who have done this through Parkrun, and we in Mountlucas have our own little awards ceremony for the Gaisce students when they complete their volunteering. They’re so welcoming to new comers at Mountlucas parkrun. I would really encourage anyone who is starting to run, or doing a couch to 5km, to try it- the parkrun is a great starting point.