Swan dive at park run

Yes, that does sound a little cryptic.

The week has been okay for training. A gym session on Monday morning, a Pilates session on Monday evening, and a most pleasant trail run with Jarlath and Richie of Liffey Trail Runners on Wednesday morning. Took in some of the Royal Canal and then into St. Catherine’s Park and a few of the paths in the woods. I love these paths, but in the past have been a bit nervous about running in the woods having once sprained an ankle leaping over a fallen tree. The leap was gazelle-like. The landing less so.

Anyway, I got over that hump, and am happy to rough it in the sticks. Plus, hill-running is a great work-out, not just for the calves, but also the core.

The latter half of the week was not so productive (work commitments), though we did manage a swim as well. Another mile. Plus a gym session.

So when Saturday came and it transpired I was off on the roster, I took the opportunity to do a park run in Castletown, Celbridge.

I started off at a decent lick, and kept up with a younger mate of mine who can do around 20 minutes for a 5k. Soon, though, he was pulling away, so I let him at it and settled into a reasonable pace. On the second (and last lap), as I was running alongside the ha-ha*, I could see a small group of ladies gathered at the edge. There was clearly some drama unfolding below, and they were shouting, and very much upset.

I ran across and looked down into the deep ditch and there was a dog (possibly a husky/Alsation cross) attacking a swan. No amount of roaring and shouting was deterring it, so I took another gazelle-like leap over the ditch onto the sloped side and jumped down into the water and hooshed the dog away. I was keen not grab its collar, and my presence did the trick and it jumped out of the ditch and I kept ‘hooshing’ until the owners arrived with the lead.

They were, as you can imagine, roundly abused by the gathering crowd of park runners. Fortunately, the swan seemed unharmed, and the only damage done was to the time on the clock. A worthy sacrifice, I reckon.

I could probably add in here something about dog-owners and the need to keep your dogs on a lead, but really there’s no point. I have a dog, and am happy to let it off the lead in the right places, and I know it will do little or no harm to anyone. But if I had a large breed that should by law be on a lead and/or muzzled, and I was in a park with a hundred or so joggers, plus many other members of the public (not to mention wildlife)… well, go figure, as they say.

By the time I finished, a team from the security detail of the house had arrived, looking to help the runner who “fallen into the ditch”. I offered to help, given my medical training. It wasn’t until later that I copped they were looking for me.

So my graceful leap for swan freedom obviously looked more like a collapsing middle-age man, having a coronary event into the nearest ditch. Oh well.

The time was 23.07 and I came 19th.

“Please take me with you…”


*A ha-ha is a recessed ditch. More details here.


4 thoughts on “Swan dive at park run

    1. By the time I had climbed out of the ditch and taken stock of the situation, just about every word under the sun had been thrown at them by the other runners. The situation was only in danger of escalating, and the row was taking place over the very swan we were all trying to help. So by far the best bet was to get everybody away. Yes, perhaps a quick dunk in the murky ditch water might have helped the owner see some sense, but usually the best bet is to get the warring factions apart. I hope they learned their lesson. Generally, I find the biggest problems in the world are people. We don’t seem to learn…


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