Tuesday 16 July 2019

Ray's runaway success!

Ray D’Arcy with Frances Mullally, Glenmore, the first woman home
Ray D’Arcy with Frances Mullally, Glenmore, the first woman home
Participants in the 5km ‘Run with Ray’parkrun with broadcaster Ray D’Arcy at the John F Kennedy Arboretum

David Looby

RTÉ's Ray D'Arcy rolled into the John F Kennedy Arboretum in the RTÉ newscaster on Wednesday where he was greeted by hundreds of people for the get-fit phenomenon, Run with Ray.

D'Arcy arrived in New Ross the previous night, eventually getting to the Brandon House Hotel after being directed by satnav into an estate at 11 p.m.

The following morning he called in to New Ross Educate Together NS who were clued in about who he was by their teachers who introduced them to The Den's Zig and Zag, D'Arcy and Dustin, via YouTube. Principal Aoife Mahon said: 'The kids were absolutely wired. He was great, chatting with them all and posing for loads of pics.'

Ray joined the pupils in their Daily Mile walk which involves doing 13 laps of the school and encouraged them to keep doing it and stay fit. Pupils asked him questions about running and enquired about what his job entails and whether or not he has interviewed famous people.

Some were particularly interested in how the newscaster worked.

Ms Mahon said: 'It was a memorable day and the kids really enjoyed it. It was great motivation for all of the to keep at the running and for me to keep at it too. We have seen a general improvement in the pupils' wellbeing since they started doing the Daily Mile.'

Ray was all smiles for the 350-plus runners who greeted him, all wearing blue 'Run with Ray' t-shirts.

First class pupils Katie Fitzgerald and Gustaf Pavlavicius and second class pupil Clara Banville from New Ross Educate Together NS went to the arboretum where they chatted with Ray. He broadcasted live from the newscaster, interviewing Paul McGrath, rugby stars Tadhg Furlong and Shane Byrne, Park runners Margaret Goldsmith, Keith Styles and Noel Redmond, as well as musician Gerry Fish who performed live.

Full & Plenty farm shop in Marshmeadows brought a hamper for Ray with Wexford strawberries and got a great plug on the show, while head guide at the arboretum Mary Moloney-O'Neill was interviewed about the wonders of one of Ireland's best parks.

New Ross Park Run presented Ray with a cake - normally reserved for Park Run runners who have completed 100 runs at the arboretum, as well as a plaque - and he was thrilled to receive them, Catherine Ronan of New Ross Park Run said.

The TV and radio presenter posed for photos and chatted with locals after the show before leading the runners for the first kilometre of the run.

Dunbrody Visitor Centre CEO Sean Connick was also at the front of the pack in his triobike, which is available to the elderly and people who have mobility issues to use at the arboretum.

New Ross was the third stop on Ray's week of running at Park Run locations around Ireland, having previously visited Limerick and Ballincollig.

He showed no sign of fatigue as he led the runners down the first 1km. Having been warned about the drags to come, Ray was tested over the rest of the route and confided to a few passing runners that it was indeed a challenging course.

The weather held all evening and everyone enjoyed the run, with some choosing to walk the route with family or friends in what was a memorable day at one of the country's finest walking and running parks.

Catherine said: 'Some people pushed buggies, walked dogs on leads, walked; it was for everyone. One of his crew said to Ray: "I told you New Ross was going to be the best" and he agreed that it was.'

Sean Connick was the first participant home, followed by local athlete Aiden Rogers, while Ray came in at 25:34, having taken his time admiring the park's beauty.

Catherine thanked the OPW, head gardener at the John F Kennedy Arboretum Kevin Naughton, Sports Active, all the stewards and everyone who supported New Ross Park Run.

The broadcasting of the show at the arboretum once again highlighted the wonderful attraction and the quality of people, tourist facilities and produce in the area.

Catherine is hoping the experience will bring more and more people back to the arboretum and to park runs which take place on Saturday mornings at 9.30 a.m. and attract crowds of between 90 and 100 most Saturdays.

New Ross Standard