I started parkrun around three years ago and only did two runs with the intentions of keeping fit and losing weight but hated the attempts as I found running with hearing aids difficult. I would get all sweaty and the hearing aids would conk out and would need drying out (several days!). I was also shy and didn’t really know what to say to hearing people. I had no idea about running and it all felt alien to me.
I then met someone (hearing) in September 2016 who is rather a parkrun fan. He encouraged me to give his local parkrun a go and to talk to people after the event which was actually excruciatingly hard. I decided to persevere and in time got to know his parkrun community, which was actually very nice!
I then decided to give my home parkrun another go and rather enjoyed it. In time, I got to know the parkrun ethos.I managed to keep a previous pair of hearing aids when they were updated which I then would use for running so I could save my best ones for work or when I am with hearing people. This meant I could relax during a social run knowing I had a back up pair. On lone runs, I still run without my aids.
In time I started to enjoy notching up my attendance and getting PBs! I was getting faster and widening my circle of running friends. I also started to run socially and joined up a local shop called Fitstuff in Guildford which organise Friday morning social runs. Lynsey who leads this was so friendly and we did intervals, hills and tempos runs. I learnt that I actually do enjoy running with others. Wonderful local woods were explored along with river path runs.
I am no speed queen at parkrun yet but love Saturday mornings – it is simply parkrunday!
There was a dearth of Deaf or hard of hearing people at parkrun and I really wanted to share my passion and the main barrier at parkrun was accessing the briefings. I attended a Christmas Eve 2016 parkrun with two deaf friends and decided there and then to say I would sign the briefings. Why not? But to my utter horror, the RD and his group had a song planned before the start and I quickly had to think on my feet & translate the song – it was even more difficult due to twists to the usual carol. See the Nonsuch parkrun Facebook page for the video!
I then knew that I rather enjoyed translating the briefings although I prefer it when the RDs show me written notes if they are adding something such as names and congratulations etc so I can fingerspell the names correctly. I had marshalled a couple of times then it became that translating the briefings would also be counted being as a volunteer. Brilliant! Access for Deaf people and get volunteer points at the same time.
I enjoy being a parkrun tourist visiting different places at 9am on Saturdays so I would put a notice out to say where I would be going or plan to go with deaf people so they would start their parkrun journey.
If you have not yet attended parkrun, I would say give it a try! It is absolutely such a great way to start your weekends – run and meet lovely people. You can walk or run. It does not matter if you are slow or fast. It does take a while to understand so perseverance is key so just keep going each week.
Tip 1 – check out the map of the route on the website so you can visualise the course. That takes away a lot of the stress in communication at the start.
Tip 2 – Do approach the RD (Run Director) and explain you have a hearing loss/ Deaf. Either they learn to make it accessible for and WITH you or already know of a communication means. This can be noticeboards, signer or a person you can lipread. You can ask them to make it clear 1,2,3 & go so you can set off at the same time as the others.
Tip 3 – check out on parkrun for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Facebook page if there will be some access such as a signer at a certain location. Failing this, the website does give you a lot of information.
Give it a go! I so love parkrun and you will too.
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