For some people parkrun is a weekly 5 km run at the same location each week. For others parkrun is an adventure, and Margie Olsen seeks out the adventure in parkrun! She has travelled to every state and territory in Australia and has touristed internationally too. And the extraordinary thing about Margie – is that most of her parkrun adventures involve volunteering rather than running.
Margie’s parkrun journey started in Lake Mac, NSW where she went along to parkrun with some friends and walked the scenic course along the lake’s shoreline. She says she is not much of a runner but enjoys a walk and adds with good humour, “the thing I love about running, is walking the whole thing!” Margie immediately felt at home in the parkrun community as a walker and credits the welcoming, inclusive outlook of parkrun. Margie comments, “being a non-runner, I have loved the welcoming and supportive culture of the parkrun community, highlighted by my home parkrun community at Lakeview in Newcastle. They welcome athletes, budding runners, mums with prams and families – whether they run in 15 minutes or walk in over an hour – they all get the same welcome and support.” Margie has since completed over 100 runs, across 60 different parkrun locations.
Margie has also volunteered around 70 different times, with over 30 of those being at different parkrun events. Not many people can say they have volunteered at so many different parkruns, but Margie is not only a keen volunteer but an enthusiastic tourist. She explains, “I started volunteering after having two heart attacks in my early months as a parkrun walker, which meant I could only volunteer for 3 months. I like both walking and volunteering, but I probably like volunteering just that little bit more! parkrun tourism has enabled us to visit many locations across NSW and interstate, many of which we would not have visited had it been for parkrun.” Margie’s favourite volunteer roles are photographer as she loves capturing the happy and funny moments of parkrun, and tail walker where she is able to support and encourage new walkers and runners.
Margie’s greatest claim to fame is that she is the only person who has volunteered in every state and territory of Australia and is therefore the only member of the Ollie Vollie Club, named of course, after Margie. To achieve this, she has volunteered at Darwin parkrun (NT), Burley Griffin (ACT), Studley (Vic), Ipswich (Qld), Victor Harbor (SA), Maylands Peninsula (WA), Hobart (Tas) and many parkruns around her home state of NSW. Whilst this is a huge highlight for Margie, many other things have stuck in her mind from her amazing parkrun adventures. Margie recalls, “the Echuca Moama parkrun launch was the most memorable as it included a Welcome to Country by a local Indigenous elder to recognise the traditional custodians of the area, the didgeridoo and other indigenous music playing beforehand, and parkrunners ran or walked through the smoking ceremony just after the start. I felt like I was welcomed into the local indigenous community, whom I keep in touch with to this day.”
Margie has had amazing experiences around Australia and met remarkable people, all through parkrun. She has contributed and given back to the parkrun community through volunteering at countless locations. She has taken thousands of photos of parkrunners, capturing special moments for so many people along the way. Margie is proud to be a part of the parkrun community, and she exemplifies the parkrun spirit through her positivity and contagious enthusiasm.
Thank you Margie!
On Saturday 6 April, Japan will become the latest country to join the parkrun family, with the launch of Futakotamagawa parkrun in Tokyo. parkrun Founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE tells us the story behind the birth of parkrun Japan… In October 2017 we were approached by Sumitomo Life with regards the possibility of starting parkrun in Japan, they were also preparing to launch the…