Bev Rethus is proving that age has no limitations when it comes to achieving your goals. At 80, Bev has successfully set up Nhill parkrun in regional Victoria, and is now the Event Director.
Bev has always been active and has walked with friends as a way of keeping fit and healthy. She participated in her first parkrun whilst holidaying on the Gold Coast in 2015 and she immediately recognized the benefit parkrun could bring to a community. Bev thought parkrun would be ideal for the small town of about 2,000 people, so she set about starting a parkrun in Nhill. It took a while to get things happening, but she persevered with applications and necessary paperwork, as she knew it would be worth the effort. One of the biggest problems Bev faced with the start up process, was that no one had ever heard of parkrun before! It was so difficult to explain that parkrun was so much more than just a 5km run each week.
The launch of Nhill parkrun was in early February and was well attended despite the town being fairly remote. It is situated half way between Adelaide and Melbourne on the Western Highway and is known as a significant transport hub for the region in the trucking industry. Around 130 people attended the launch with 89 finishing the course. Bruce Purdie, the Event Ambassador of Nhill parkrun, said it was a huge honour to be involved in the launch, “there was so much excitement amongst the locals and there were many pre-run speeches. The Shire Officer of Nhill spoke and even commented on how unusual it was to see the carpark this full on a Saturday morning!” Bruce continues, “finally, Bev yelled out ‘Welcome to Nhill parkrun’ and there were many loud cheers from enthusiastic parkrunners.” Bev saaid that Bruce had been so supportive and helpful in the lead up to the launch. Although Bev said she had always been involved in school and church community events and has had much experience in organising events, she said she found the launch to be easy enough.
The course itself is a beautiful bushy trail starting only about a minute from the town centre. Bruce describes the course as “a real little oasis as the trail meanders alongside a fire track, past a boardwalk, across a floodway, then through a number of misty swamps before reaching the Nhill Lake and running through a labyrinth of crooked trees. The lake is in perfect position to reflect the rising sun each Saturday morning.” The name “Nhill” is believed to mean “early morning mist rising over water” in the local indigenous language. All of this illustrates Nhill parkrun as a little haven and a perfect way for the residents to begin their weekend.
With such a beautiful course and a successful launch, Bev said her biggest challenge to be the technology side of things. She comments, “Bruce has been very patient and supportive in teaching me how to upload the results”. Bev said that she practiced every day for a week to make sure she got it right for the launch. The volunteers help manage the stopwatch and the scanner and Bev’s granddaughter is always on hand in case she needs extra support. She felt that she had the skills to start parkrun but really would like to be able to hand it over. She sees it at something she can leave to the people of Nhill. Bruce comments, “Bev is driven to make a change in her community and has been responsible for a number of fundraising projects in the past. She wanted parkrun to happen for Nhill but wants others to take the mantle and develop it’s true potential.”
Bev is passionate, determined and savvy. She is committed to her local community and wants to see developments and improvements occur to the small town she has called home over 50 years. Bev has life long friends who have supported her goals and she has shown that with the help of a good team, anything is possible. Bev is proof that age is merely a number.
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