Laois Sports Partnership (LSP) in association with Portlaoise Athletics Club organised the LAOIS 5K VIRTUAL RUN/WALK over 5 days from March 17 to 21.
About 700 Runners/walkers and complete beginners joined in for the Laois 5km Virtual Run/Walk.
Participants from every corner of Laois and from other counties in Ireland as well as families participating as far as California and beyond.
Funded by Laois Sports Partnership through the Healthy Ireland Keep Well Campaign, we wanted to encourage people of all abilities to take part and run/walk/wheel the 5km from 17th – 21st March. The first 380 participants who registered for the event received a fabulous blue running top which were posted out prior to the event.
Portlaoise AC supported participants for the last six weeks through their journey to completing a 5km at whatever pace you could. Couch to 5k training plans were available for beginners and advanced through experienced coaches from the Club.
Proceeds from the event will be used to support activity programmes for people with visual impairments through Laois Sports Partnership and Portlaoise Athletics Club, with a donation also being made to Laois Guide Dogs. €4,000 euro was raised which is being split 50-50 between Portlaoise AC and Laois Guide Dogs.
In 2020 Laois Sports Partnership launched its first C25K programme for people with visual impairments with Portlaoise AC.
Manager of Laois Sports Partnership CLG Caroline Myers said the programme was very successful, with participants being able to enjoy guide running for the first time with the support of other athletes from the running club.
"We want to build on the success of this programme which can be done now because of the fantastic support from everyone that registered and supported the event," said Ms Myers.
"Participants enjoyed getting out for their activity and enjoyed the benefits of getting out in the “fresh air” which in turn improves quality of life, improves sleep, improved physical fitness, improved wellbeing, reduces stress and anxiety. When people are in natural surroundings, physical activity releases endorphins which gives us that “feel good” feeling.
"We have received great feedback from participants of which I enclose a testimonial. I am sure you will agree with the sentiment," said the LSP manager.
Some of the people who took part spoke about the initiative.
"I have completed many 5k walks over the years but nothing like the virtual 5K yesterday. To say I felt pride is an understatement. For the first time in over a year, I could feel that sense of community in the air.
"We walked with our heads held high, a smile on our face and waved to so many in their blue T-shirt’s. With the sun on our backs, we started out supporting Laois Guide Dogs and Portlaoise Athletics Club but by the end it meant so much more. Thank You," said one participant.
Another man took part with his daughter and dogs in the USA.
"My daughter, Emily, and I were honoured to join in the event. We participated remotely from California along with our 2 Goldens, Daisy and Lady.
"We are descendants of the Cullens of Abbeyleix. My wife, Katie, and I had a magical visit to County Laois 2 years ago and stay in close contact with Trudy Mhic An Earla and Sile Headen. We definitely plan to return.
"It was truly an honour to participate in the 5K run and support such worthy organizations. Although our feet were in California, our hearts were with all of you in Co Laois!"