For 1700 elderly and vulnerable people enduring lockdown, it's the perfect way to start an at-home exercise programme — get a runner's goodie bag without having to even lace up your gutties. 

It might sound like an April Fool's Day prank but the gift bags are real and come from the organisers of the postponed St Patrick's Day SPAR Craic 10k. For this week, with the annual run now moved to Sunday 4 October, 1700 goodie bags were donated to the  Andersonstown Social Club's mammoth relief programme. 

The community support initiative, which has been providing parcels of essentials to vulnerable people enduring the Covid-19 lockdown, will start adding the goodie bags to its regular deliveries. 

"We were very pleased to have put together a cracking goodie bag," says race director Connla McCann. "Among the contents donated by our sponsors are a FulFil Protein Bar and Sparking Orange ICE Water from the Richmond Group, popcorn from our lead partner SPAR and —  though this probably won't be needed until the restrictions on going outside are lifted again — foot plasters from our sponsor Medicare."

Adds Connla: "The last thing. we wanted to do was to have to discard the items in the packs which had summer sale-by-dates so we were delighted to be able to team up with the ASC to ensure they go to the vulnerable and elderly who no doubt will enjoy something different in their weekly parcel."

The Aisling Events managing director said she took the decision to cancel the sixth annual fun run before the government formal restrictions kicked in. "We're a small company and the lockdown has effectively knocked our business for six," she said, "but we are determined to pick ourselves back up.

"In fact, we were considering cancelling the SPAR Craic 10k entirely and missing a year but when I saw the community fightback, I just decided we weren't going to let this damned coronavirus beat us. We are determined the show will go on on 4 October and, fingers crossed, we will be able to give the runners of Belfast the St Patrick's Day outing they relish."

All Spar Craic 10k entrants who wish to defer to October do not need to take any action as they will automatically be registered for the October run. Anyone wishing to obtain a refund can see options online

Photo and video by Thomas McMullan, Belfast Media Group.