At the beginning of June we visited my husband’s family in Northern Ireland and specifically Lurgan, “a small grim town outside Belfast”, a description of his hometown that had originally appeared in the Boston Globe some years ago that my husband humorously used when introducing himself to me. I had however been there before and despite the fact that I could see a bit how this description had come about (especially in older times) I knew that Lurgan is a great place to go running at. So I packed my running gear (too much of it considering I could get my things washed in the house) and off we went. The first day (Friday) we were there I went for a little run around, just from the house to the park and back, just to shake my legs as I was taking part in the Fields of life 10k race at Stormont Park on Saturday. Saturday morning my husband, our boy and myself each tackled the 5k, 1k and 10k races, respectively, at Stormont park, which turned out to be a lovely occasion. As there was plenty of babysitting from grandparents and cousins for my son, I had all the free time in the world to also go out on Sunday for a long run (of 10miles) at Lurgan park. I ran the approximately 2km from the house to the park on the wide and very civilised Lurgan pavements and entered the park to take my familiar route around it, going anti-clockwise.
Going around the park is a bit less than 2 miles (it’s about 2.9km). The terrain is road and there are several but not severe undulations, just enough to make the run a bit more challenging than running in the flat. The park is lovely and full of tall trees, giving you the impression very quickly that you are in the countryside.
As I came around having Lurgan golf club on my right there was the lake with lovey views on my left.
The park is spotlessly clean with nice benches one can sit on and read a book or just chill out.
Although a 2 mile circumference is great, if one has to do a long run one has to go around the park quite a few times, but running to and from home adds up to the distance. To add some variety, one can also run through the park, entering from the central gates, running straight past the playground and running into the heart of the park. Doing this I was pleasantly surprised to find a new part of the park with some trails that brought me this feeling one only gets on trail runs while running alone in the woodland.
Lurgan Park is ideal if one wants to run repeats and do some interval workouts. I have done both mile-repeat workouts in the flat central part of the park as well as hill-repeat sessions. In fact I did my hill-repeat session the Tuesday after my long run. After this I lied down on the grass to do some core exercises. I was relaxed and was watching the dog owners walk their dogs in the park, playing with them fetch, being free from the cares of the day while in the company of their four-legged friends. As I lay there doing some crunches a little doggy ran to say hi to me while his panicked owner was calling him back apologising to me for his dog bothering me. I smiled and tried to explain it was ok, I missed my dogs while away from home, so saying hi to the little fellow was very welcome. As I sat there in between my planks, another doggy playing fetch brought his ball to me and sat right next to me. His owner said he was expecting me to throw the ball for him, so I played along for a while with this lovely Border Collie called Prince (needless to say my 3rd plank repeat was forgotten but I did it when I returned home). This is one of the things I miss since I moved to Greece from London. Being able to take my dogs to the park, letting them run free (within reason), throw the stick to my King Charles Cavalier, which he would run like crazy to get and bring back to me. I used to that every morning before going to work, it was by far the best part of my day (this was the pre-baby era). Sure, we have the sea and the beach in Greece, but no parks. There is nowhere to go for a walk or a picnic to get away from the buzz of it all. There is also one more thing I really miss, being able to go for a run at any time during the day (apart from some very hot summer days) without having to wake up at 5.30am on a Sunday morning to go for my run before the temperatures hit 35oC, for almost half the year. Having said that, the weather in Lurgan was funny. It was too hot to wear long sleeves but during my runs the weather would do a 360o turn. From sunny it would go windy and dark, it would rain a bit and then get sunny and nice all over again to repeat the cycle. I have to say I have always liked a bit of rain on my face while running, I somehow find it liberating.
I found Lurgan people very courteous to runners as everyone stepped aside to let me pass and I found Lurgan looking very pleasant with lots of little nice and interesting shops and coffee places inviting you to pay them a visit. A family favourite is Cafolla’s for a coke float, chips and marshmallow ice (I had to diet a bit when we got back home but it was worth it!).
Aer Lingus has since brought us safely back to Greece where we are now bracing ourselves for the heat wave expected in the next few days (temperatures expected to reach 39oC where we live (Friday and Saturday), longing for the crazy Northern Irish weather of currently 13oC and rain.