The Culture Night Run: ‘Sweaty, tired and smug – and it’s not even 8pm’

A breakneck-speed jogger’s tour of Dublin city took in murals, museum pieces and a gig

Participants in the Runlogic Ireland Culture Night Run ran between venues and events. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

Participants in the Runlogic Ireland Culture Night Run ran between venues and events. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

 

“Sure, fair play to yiz”. I look up to see a young guy in his 20s watching incredulously as I battle through the throngs of people crossing O’Connell bridge. Around me a group of about a dozen runners clad in lycra shorts and high-vis T-shirts are struggling in a similar manner to make it through the rush hour crowds .

A pedestrian to my right steadies herself following a near collision with one member of our tour who has opted for the strategy of ploughing through the traffic at breakneck speed. I settle on the weaving method: jumping from one foot to another interspersed with a never-ending stream of apologies as I traverse the city centre crossing.

It’s nearly 7pm on Culture Night and instead of my usual routine of exploring the city’s museums on foot I have signed up for a speedier option of taking in the annual September festivities.

The joggers meet outside the RunLogic store on Smock Alley Court around the corner from Cow’s Lane. Ash, who will lead the expedition around the city, explains that we will be contending with unusually large crowds because of the evening that’s in it. But fear not, I’ve done this before, says Ash. We can weave.

The run kicks off with cheers of support from some bystanders enjoying street theatre outside the Gaiety of School of Acting, followed by a chorus of “Oh my god, runners” on East Essex street where we battle the uncomfortable cobblestoned surface.

Confusion reigns among the crowds of tourists outside the Temple Bar pub as we continue down the popular pub stretch en route to Bedford Lane, or the Icon Walk as it’s apparently commonly known (never knew it existed).

Upon arrival we encounter not only a series of murals depicting Irish sporting and literary heroes, but an Irish Times photographer eager to catch the perfect action shot of our sporting activity. My fellow joggers are surprisingly accommodating to the demands of the photographer, repeatedly running up and down the lane until the pictures are done.

From Temple Bar we make our way out to the Liffey, where, after contending with the O’Connell Bridge crossing, we run down the boardwalk towards the Samuel Beckett Bridge.

After a short stop off for a photo with a thousand cranes dotted on the horizon, we arrive at the Windmill Lane studios where we are offered a brief reprieve in the form of a performance from musician Jane Willow who is playing in the building’s central atrium.

Next up, a short run down considerably quieter streets brings us to Macken Street where we eventually find a chalkboard directing us through a small door into the Trinity College Geological Museum.

The collection of artefacts, which normal reside in the university’s museum building, recently got the boot to allow more space for PhD students on campus. They’ll be back on campus soon, a researcher reassures me as he shines a light on what he says 290-million-year-old trilobite beetle.

Next he holds up what looks to me like a somewhat discoloured rock but actually turns out to be a Mongolian dinosaur egg. Can’t say I’ve ever seen one of those before. I’m impressed.

The next leg of our run brings us the short distance down Pearse Street to the Trinity College science museum where I spend the following 20 minutes examining photographs of couples that have been fused into one to prove the theory that our physical appearance grows increasingly similar the longer we spend with our partner. A quick check of a photo on my phone of my lovely fella reassures me that we haven’t quite reached twin status … yet.

The running group gathers outside the museum one last time before making the final dash through the city back to our west Essex street starting point.

I’m sweaty, tired and hungry but admittedly smug having already taken in a varied selection of Culture Night’s offerings. And it’s not even 8pm. Quick change into clean clothes and it’s back out into the night to join the arguably more sane people enjoying the city’s cultural offerings at walking pace.

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