It all started in June 2013. I was 45 and a half, and a friend of mine asked if I’d run with him as he was training for the Brighton Half Marathon. Shortly afterwards my friend did a parkrun and suggested that I gave it a go. I’d been a tennis coach but would never have considered myself a runner.
We turned up at Brighton and Hove parkrun in Brighton and positioned ourselves near the middle, and I must admit that I found it quite awe-inspiring. We headed off and I weaved my way around until I realised that I was in third position. I finished in 17:51 and was hooked. Everyone was so friendly and I couldn’t wait for the following week.
I set myself some personal targets to achieve and I transformed from someone who had never considered running, to someone who was racing, and had joined a club. All because of parkrun. When I don’t run, I volunteer, and have done so 30 times.
By April 2014 I was representing Brighton and Hove Athletics Club, running cross-country, track, and all road distances. But I’d never miss a parkrun unless there literally was no choice. The people, the volunteers, the camaraderie, are not to be missed. parkrun is my constant. It let’s me know where I’m at, and picks me up when I’m down. 2015 saw my proudest moment, when I was selected to run for England at cross-country in the Male Vet 45 age category. My parkrun time was down to 15:57, which remains my best time to date. Every event, every distance, every medal, is all because of parkrun, and I can’t thank you enough.
I can honestly say that runners are the nicest people, and that athletics is the friendliest sport. parkrun has become a birthing pool for new runners, and a safe haven for everyone. It takes in all, and makes them welcome, and for me it is the best thing to happen in sport, ever.
In addition to what parkrun has done for my fitness and running: it is my social activity of my whole week. I speak to more people on just my warm up than I do for the rest of the entire week. I have more friends than I ever thought possible. I have benefited from the wisdom of others, and in turn, people have turned to me for advice on different topics. Everyone is there for each other.
parkrun has definitely got many layers to its benefits, which just enhances how amazing it is as a weekly event. It is a community in its own right. It doesn’t judge, and is 100% inclusive. We could do with more of this spirit and action in wider society.
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