The end of November 2017 I was 3 months pregnant and knew something was wrong. I called my husband, who was working that evening and told him about my suspicions, and that it was important to take my calls that night. Later, I woke up that evening confirming my worries, called an ambulance and my husband. I joined the one in four women in Australia who experience a miscarriage during their life. The vision I had of my family evolving in the next year changed in an instant.
In the following week, I started to piece my reality back together. A friend suggested I join her at parkrun the next day.
A little heavier than I used to be, and with limited fitness, I hesitantly pledged to turn up. On top of all this, I am one of the only Muslims in our area. I turn up on a balmy Queensland December morning in a long-sleeved sports top with a hooded hijab covering my hair and baggy track pants. Proud of my identity but painfully aware of how ‘daggy’ I look I had visions of goddess looking women in their tank tops and the golden gladiator men giving me the stink eye. In reality, couldn’t have been further from the truth. Men, women, children and dogs of all ages, abilities and fitness levels welcomed me with cheesy grins. I felt welcomed by the parkrun community from the very first day.
I finish the first parkrun and I was hooked. With each week I work on my fitness improving my time alongside my new friends not realising that something else is at work. I was slowly becoming a part of the parkrun community. I had the bug, I join the local running group, who also ‘park run’ and accept me with open arms. They become my tribe. PB’s are smashed, new distances are conquered and new elevation reached all with the support of my running crew.
A few weeks before the recent Christchurch Mosque Shooting I was on my way to a running event with a fellow ‘parkrunner’ and was refused entry into a service station. He wanted me to take off my scarf. After explaining to the attendant that I was a Muslim and wearing a sports hijab he still refused entry. I stayed calm, took a photo and made an official complaint with head office. They later made an apology. My friend had my back. She was outraged. This coupled with the Mosque shootings left me disillusioned with society. After confiding in my fellow parkrunners I realised that I had the support of our whole running community.
This got me thinking. In our ever so globalised, yet fragmented world many of us have become disconnected with those in our local area. parkrun has become a vehicle to breathe life back into our communities, bridge understandings and simple human connection. Or maybe this is just my experience?
Following a total mastectomy five years ago, Helen Thiele was left feeling different to other women and very self conscious with no desire to undertake any physical activity. Thanks to some gentle words of encouragement from her daughter and husband, Helen walked Darwin parkrun in the Northern Territory and was instantly hooked. She is now…
I always take my plush toy chook on holidays with me. He’s been in the foreground of many mountain and seascape holiday snaps. This Christmas break I decided well why not bring him on my tourist parkruns. We’ve just visited Warrnambool and Port Fairy together and he is a great conversation starter, people…