Name: Michael Parks
Occupation: IT professional
Local parkrun: Dundalk
Number of parkruns completed: 26
How did you get involved in parkrun?
I was aware of the concept and when the first run took place in Dundalk I turned up to run it despite carrying an injury. That somewhat unwise decision left me unable to run for a few weeks, so I volunteered from week two onwards and joined the core team a few weeks after that. Three years on and I’ve been the Event Director for over a year now.
What do you love about parkrun?
I love watching the nervous first timers come back again and seeing how they progress over time as the regular attendance starts to work its magic on their fitness and confidence. The social aspect is also a big part of it and we’ve seen many friendships develop amongst the regulars.
Who do you participate with?
I don’t get to run very often but it seems that most of my recent runs have been with my training partner. We’re very competitive and have pushed each other hard each time. Bragging rights at the finish are very important you know.
Any parkrun milestones / achievements you would like to share?
I’m halfway to my 50 club t-shirt and long past my 25 volunteer milestone with something over 110 volunteer occasions now.
How has parkrun impacted positively on your family outside of 9:30am on a Saturday?
My wife and daughter both volunteer fairly often. My daughter has started running and I hope she’ll stick with it and get as much enjoyment out of it as I do. Now if I could just get my wife to do the same I might be able to talk about running all the time at home. Oh wait, apparently I already do that.
Do you have a health or fitness goal?
I’m more of a long-distance runner and typically race at half marathon distances and above. In September I’ll run my third ultra-marathon of the year at the Causeway Coast. 64Km through some of the Game of Thrones locations. My main goal at any time is not to get injured.
Who is your dream parkrun running buddy?
The temptation is to pick someone famous but in all honesty any of my running friends. We know each other well now and a run together will always leave me in good spirits.
What was your best parkrun experience?
This is probably not what is expected in answer to this question, but it was the first parkrun after the death of one of our core team. Andy was a huge part of the running community in the North East and well known to everyone. We asked people attending that day to wear red in his memory not really knowing what to expect. On what was a very emotional day we had an overwhelming response setting an attendance record that we will never match again. The sea of red at the start line was an amazing tribute. The way the running community came together to remember him embodies that everything parkrun is about for me. Support, community and a shared love for something so simple yet potentially life changing.
What advice would you give to someone who’s never been to parkrun?
As with everything in life don’t knock it until you’ve tried it at least once. After all, what’s the worst that could happen? You won’t be last, we have a Tail Walker for that. No one will make fun of you or belittle your efforts. We so much want to see people succeed and I’d like to think we make that happen in our own small way.
Image Caption: Dundalk parkrun Event Director, Michael Parks, pictured with Vhi ambassador and Olympian, David Gillick.
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