I know what you’re thinking. What kind of question is that? Of course running is not a team sport. Running involves self-motivation and many people enjoy it for its solitary benefits, like time to just let go of a day’s stress or maybe setting our own personal goals to PB a certain distance for example. Now those things are some of the obvious and stated outcomes of what drives runners, but is it everything? Well I don’t think it is and here’s why!
It’s plainly and simply because of the help and caring I’ve both witnessed and received over my 30 years as a runner. Let’s go back that 30 years and you’ll find a 21 year old soccer player with a dream; a dream to run a marathon.
Having had a challenging to say the least childhood and looking to prove something to myself I set a goal to run the Montreal Marathon. I had heard you should run at least 3/4ths of a marathon before the actual race. I trained for only a few weeks and in that time ran the most in one outing maybe 15k. Let me remind you a marathon distance is 42.2k. I was doomed!
Or was I? Right from the start line a good soul found me, set me on a comfortable pace until I hit the wall and asked him to leave me. A lot of limping, walking and jogging later found me at the finish line in just over 5 hours. If not for that quickly formed team my running journey most likely would have ended before it started.
Now join me almost 30 years later and thanks to the miracle of social media I watched a friend grow a fundraising team from parkrun friends and acquaintances; they live in Australia. Motivated by their beautiful goal of raising funds for a children’s hospice they connected with each other at different parkruns, followed each other’s progress on-line and set their sights on the Honolulu Marathon as their year-end run for 2015.
I was swept up by this wave of running love and made a date to meet them in paradise. Determined to train properly this time I stepped up my game, but bad luck had me damaging an ankle on a trail. Not knowing how much damage was done I tried my best to go all the way. I made the trip and we celebrated together in style holding a pop-up parkrun along Waikiki Beach, and two days later we were off on marathon morning.
Though we all ran our own pace (some together/some not) we were re-energized every time we saw another Team Hummingbird singlet along the course. It’s beyond great to know that we were part of something much bigger than the sum of its parts. We were a team!
And it is thanks to that team that every day I witness the incredible spirit that is parkrun; an initiative I had been shocked to learn at the time had not caught on in Canada quite yet. Jump to a few years later and I’m watching team after team form in order to start new parkruns in this amazing country (a belated Happy Canada Day, by the way!)
And as we celebrated our First Anniversary at parc Frederic Back in Montreal we were again humbled by the dedication and teamwork it took to get here. It can still be debated as to whether Running is a team sport, but often in life and always at parkrun teamwork sets something very special in motion! See you next Saturday, teammate!
By Tracy Laroque, parkrun Frederic Back Run Director
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