6 years of Sanctuary Runners – Bettie’s Story

I moved to Ireland when I was 26, a long time ago. It took me ages to make local friends and build a supportive network … and I was just coming from England! For people coming from further afield, it can be much harder to make friends and build that network. The Sanctuary Runners really help with that integration.

Back in 2018, I saw an article with a phone number to call. I phoned Graham and he said to turn up at Ballincollig parkrun. I turned up ‘got the blue T-shirt’, met other Sanctuary Runners and that was it. My first Parkrun. I’ve been to 40 more since, and there is always a Sanctuary Runner group to chat with, jog with, and banter with.  Running with people from around the world, or jogging or walking, is always a joyous occasion. I love meeting people from other parts of the world. Diversity is everything. The smiles and laughs we have!

One of my favourite things about being a Sanctuary Runner is that you can turn up at any event and be part of a welcoming family – even if you haven’t made it along for a while. There’s no pressure, you come when you can. I meet old friends and new friends each time! 

Another thing about being part of this group is a big incentive to get up and go out, to jog/walk, with like-minded people, and I feel great afterwards.  It’s nice to wear ‘the blue t-shirt and feel part of something. I’m one of the slowest at the Park Run, but there are always Sanctuary Runners there to cheer me across the finish line. A great feeling! 

Sometimes people arrive and they are already runners, and they impress us all. Others have not run before, they try it, jogging or walking, and find they like it. Getting out and getting exercise is good for us all, no matter where we’re from. 

For anyone thinking of joining Sanctuary Runners, I would say to give it a try. It opens up so many opportunities. I would not have been part of a Cork City Marathon relay team for the past 2 years if I had not been in Sanctuary Runners, or enjoyed chats over coffee and cake, not to mention street parties. I’ve travelled around Ireland, and even to other countries, to join in parkrun with Sanctuary Runners.