Christmas day parkrun at Sandgate was a very special one for our family for so many reasons, but before I explain why it is worthwhile going back in time. Back to a time where it began for our family.
At a house in Prospect St in Erskineville (not far from St Peter’s parkrun as fate would have it), a young bouncing energetic boy named Harry was born in December 1928. That boy would become the wonderful loving father of two girls and two boys, one of which was me.
Harry met his beautiful wife who convinced him to stay in Brisbane and bring up a family with her. He was especially supportive of his children’s sporting pursuits, even when we kids too easily gave up. But Harry was especially supportive of my brother in his love of athletics during his growth into a Queensland middle distance champion competing on the national stage. Good enough, in fact, he was lured to the United States to become college captain of Ohio State University track team.
Harry during this time was an enthusiastic Secretary of Nundah Athletics Club and committee member of the Queensland Amateur Athletics Association. Meanwhile, he encouraged both my sister and myself into athletics taking us to weekly meets at Lang Park. We unfortunately might not have been as enthusiastic as our brother…
This whole time, despite being such an advocate for the pursuit of athletic excellence, I don’t think I once saw my dad compete. This I always found a little confusing.
Time went on, and jobs took our family members into more mundane routines and less of the running events which secretly we all loved so much.
Many years later, my wife Suzanne discovered this group she called “parkrun” and encouraged me to join, despite my significant reservations that it was not a “real” event. My god, how wrong I was! I was hooked! Shortly after I was invited to be a team member of Gungahlin parkrun with my wife, taking on Run Director roles and eventually becoming a Co-Event Director. My brother and sister-in-law travelled back from Ohio and knowing their athletic abilities we invited them to join us at our event. OMG! Another couple are hooked! So much so, they decided this concept they had to take it back to where they lived. Well after a couple of years of negotiation and jumping through hoops, so was born Mansfield Ohio parkrun, the 7th parkrun started in the US!
This December, our dad turned 90, and he is still as fit as anyone would want to be at that age. Hey! He only retired from a physical outdoor job when he was 85! In celebration of this momentous year for our dad, Suzanne and I have travelled back to Brisbane, my brother Steve and sister-in-law Karen, their kids and partners and granddaughter have returned from the US as well as our other sisters from various parts of the world.
My wife suggested we take our dad to the Christmas parkrun at Sandgate to give back some of what our dad has given to us kids. What a perfect way to complete the circle!
So on a stunningly sunny day at Sandgate on December 25, 2018, my dad completed his first parkrun with his two sons, two daughters-in-law, two grandchildren, younger sister and her barkrunner. Aged 90!!
So many parkrunners congratulated him, wanted to meet him, expressed their admiration for him has made us all so proud both of him, but also of what parkrun can give us all. An opportunity to join the community, to participate no matter your age or ability, and to give back to all those you love so much. Proof that parkrun is for everyone from 4 to 90+. Literally!
This might be the only time our dad will come to parkrun (we certainly hope not!) but giving him the opportunity to join with us in our passion, while maybe sparking a sneaky desire into Harry has been so worth it. He might be a late starter, but I suspect maybe not for the very last time he will join us out on the paths.
We are all so proud of our dad Harry, and so lucky we have parkrun to share that joy with him.
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