Battleground.. Laytown Beach parkrun last Saturday morning. Photo: Photographer Matt Browne/Laytown parkrun FB page

Meathman's Diary: Parkrunners vs sea swimmers and the Battle of Laytown Beach

An early morning sea mist rolled on to Laytown beach shrouding the iconic Nanny cottage, swirling along up the coastline to create an unsettling, ghostly landscape.

Through the salty haze the crunch of sneakers on sand could be heard growing louder, voices animated, labradoodles barking, their yelps breaking through the cold morning air.

First dozens, then hundreds appeared from the dunes, down the steps, out of SUVs. A lycra-clad infantry assembling, stretching, ready to claim the sacred sands of the east coast and proudly plant the parkrun flag in new territory.

The experienced troops made their way to the front, battlehardened in skinny shorts and VHI Mini Marathon singlets, no stiff seabreeze was going to deter them from their 5km charge to Mornington glory. The second wave featured the snoods, sunglasses and bandana brigade, followed by the reargunner runners in thermal hats and windbreakers, cockapoos straining on leashes.

With tension building ahead of the Big Push, the parkrun commander, hi-viz on, loudhaler in hand, issued final instructions to the trenches. He could hold them back no longer, victory would be theirs.

Suddenly, and without warning, a battlecry let loose from the Bettystown side, increasing in ferocity as it drew nearer, ominous shadows emerging from the sea fog.

The parkrun commander, having just shared the location for the defibrillator lowered his megaphone and turned in horror to see his worst nightmare coming straight for him.

"Sea Swimmers!" he yelled, before remembering he had a megaphone in his hand, he raised it and screeched again, "Sea Swimmerrrrrrs!"

It was too late to run, the fiercely territorial open water women waders of Funtasialand had heard of the parkrun plan to takeover the beach and had mobilised (via facebook) a small but well equipped army of dryrobed mercenaries to dispel the Skechers-clad invaders.

This was now a land/sea/sand/turf war with neither side willing to surrender their Saturday morning leisure ground.

As hand to hand combat ensued, the singlets were the first casualties of war. The flimsy polyester vests were no match for the thermal lagging jackets and protective googles of the sea swimmers.

The parkrunners frontline valiantly tried repel the breast-strokers but couldn't penetrate the rubber caps and wet suits and certainly not with just bananas and protein bars for weapons. They were cruelly cut down by a barrage of blows from Thermos flasks filled with Lyons Tea. There was blood and fitbits everywhere.

It was becoming clear the parkrunners could not withstand the direct hits from tow floats and dry bags, the order was given to retreat. Smelling blood and Deep Heat, the Sea Swimmers pursued their enemy up the beach, albeit not that quickly as the dryrobes were weighing them down.

Barricaded into Gilna's Cottage Inn, the exhausted parkrunners triaged the injured, logged personal bests and refuelled on flat whites and pain au chocolats and all vowed to fight another day.

For the Sea Swimmers, victory had come at a price. They regrouped and waddled back to the sand but discovered the tide had gone out leaving them with a mile walk before they could take their victory dip in the cold embrace of the Irish Sea.

The sun was out now, an uneasy peace settled upon the strand, but, for how long?