Belfast Telegraph

Prisoners go on the run as Magilligan jail joins forces with race organisers

By Staff Reporter

Prisoners at a Northern Ireland jail have gone on the run - but all in a good cause.

Inmates at Magilligan in Co Londonderry took part in a parkrun event on Saturday.

It is part of a pioneering initiative between Parkrun UK and Magilligan Prison.

Parkrun UK is a non-profit making organisation which helps communities co-ordinate free, volunteer-led 5k and 2k events for walkers and runners.

The Magilligan event, called the Lower Drummans parkrun, takes place within the confines of the prison perimeter each Saturday and will see prisoners and staff involved as walkers, runners and volunteer organisers.

Colin Rice, senior gym instructor at Magilligan, said: "I heard about a prison in England doing a parkrun and looked into the idea for one at Magilligan.

"The prisoners were up for it as well as staff, and with the support of parkrun UK we arranged our first event for Saturday."

He added: "I want to get more men involved who don't really engage with the gym to encourage a healthier lifestyle. I believe a parkrun is ideal for this as it is available to all, no matter what fitness level."

Magilligan Prison Governor Gary Milling said: "Rehabilitation is truly at the heart of all we do at Magilligan prison and a parkrun is a really good fit with this.

"The parkrun presents a good opportunity to help those not yet engaged with health and fitness activities to change their habits and, hopefully, to continue with a focus on a healthy lifestyle when they return to their communities."

Parkrun's Country Manager in Northern Ireland, Matt Shields, said: "We believe prisoners have a lot to gain from parkrun, not only because of the obvious benefits of physical activity and volunteering, but also because of the ties it will foster with their families on the outside.

"They can share experiences by taking part in parkruns simultaneously, meaning families can share results weekly and compare improvement and feel part of a common activity.

"The fact that this is also an activity that prisoners and staff can do together also breaks down barriers and builds cohesion. For everyone involved we feel this is a win, win situation."

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