I was lucky enough to grow up in a family in which exercise, and particularly running, were encouraged. Jogging has therefore always been deeply important to my mental and physical wellbeing for as long as I can remember, and my adventures by trainer have taken me to half-marathons in Paris, the Masai Mara in Kenya and all around the country.
However, at various points in my life; for injury, pregnancies and more recently for chemotherapy, I’ve had to put my running on hold and then restart and rebuild, which is always a tough prospect.
I’ve now been part of the Shrewsbury parkrun fraternity for four years, starting when my daughter was eight weeks old. I can’t tell you how excited I was to discover this wonderful community where I could turn up each week with my buggy, rediscover my love of running and gradually build back to fitness again.
I had to pause running again for a second pregnancy in 2015, after which the buggy was upgraded to a double and responsibility for pushing this heavy load has passed to my husband! (I get the dog, who often pulls me up the hills!).
Acute stomach pains took me to A&E where emergency surgery and a shock diagnosis of bowel cancer swiftly followed. As a generally fit, healthy and comparatively young (sub-35) individual, this unpleasant discovery left me reeling physically and emotionally as I struggled to come to terms with everything.
Once recovered from abdominal surgery I started chemotherapy, the side effects of which (for me) included nausea and the severe lethargy for which these toxic chemicals are renowned. My chemotherapy treatment lasted six months, given fortnightly, and it would lying if I said it was anything but miserable. But as treatment became a routine, I discovered there was a little window of opportunity every two weeks where I felt well enough to attempt running.
So every two weeks, when possible, I attended Shrewsbury parkrun. Of course I’ve been slower, but being able to run and feeling part of something has been vital for my emotional and physical wellbeing, a little slice of normality. Not only that, but the sense of achievement, at actually being able to complete the 5k in spite of everything has made me overwhelmingly grateful for this wonderful event.
Without knowing the details of my life and of the challenging circumstances I was dealing with, the various run directors, volunteers and my fellow runners, (many of whom know by sight but perhaps not by name), have always taken the time to greet me warmly. That meant a lot to me, and I want to share how important that sense of community has been to me.
In difficult times, it’s often the little things that make a big difference; the opportunity to get out and run come rain or shine with the wonderful group of people at Shrewsbury parkrun, the chance to plod around the beautiful Quarry Park and be grateful for the ability to run, and the feeling of achievement at the end all make me feel profoundly grateful. I am also thrilled to have joined the parkrun 50 Club. It’s taken me nearly four years, I’m just hoping I can complete the next 50 a little faster!
My daughter Alice is my reason for running. She has the CASK gene mutation, causing parts of her brain to be underdeveloped. Alice is non-verbal, visually impaired and is fed through a tube directly into her stomach for 16 hours a day. Alice also has epilepsy, scoliosis and poor muscle control. Despite all of this…
When Cardiff parkrun launched in 2008 it was the seventh event to join the parkrun family and the first outside of England. Following on from its 10th birthday last weekend, Event Director Phil Cook looks back on an event that has had a significant impact on the Welsh capital and blazed the trail for…