Recently retired professional rugby union player, Ben Alexander shares his story how parkrun helped him through the toughest patch of his life.
When my Grandmother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she advised me to “quit while I was ahead” with my rugby. I’m proud to say that I did, and was able to tell her that I did, right before she died. She never wanted me to play as a child, and for her to know I made it to the end of my career in “one piece”, made her smile. She had never wanted me to play.
Grandma was the matriarch our of family, and with both my parents working long hours, I spent a fair whack of my childhood under her care. So with my rugby career and her life coming to an end within weeks, it’s fair to say that it knocked me for 6. The two things I’d grown to depend on most, were no longer in my life.
But luckily, right before my Grandmother passed, a mate of mine suggested that I “come for a run with him”. We attended the Burley Griffin parkrun, and I was hooked!
I ran/walked my way to a 25:01, and 11 months later, my PB is now at 19:23, and I’ve only missed a couple of parkruns since (forgot my barcode once!).
As a young fella growing up, exercising and competing every Saturday on the football field had become apart of my life. I’m so grateful that I have found that same love I had for rugby, in running. And I have my mates and parkrun to thank for that!
I believe that it’s one of life’s great gifts to find a sport you love. We all know exercising for exercise sake can be tough, but to find a sport that you truly love AND gets you to exercise is a gift. Whether it be running, rugby, golf or surfing… enjoying exercise is life long habit that will hold you in good stead… especially during the tough times.
As I approach my 50th parkrun, I look back and I’m overwhelmingly grateful to the parkrun community for welcoming me, and my friends who joined me for a parkrun during that tough time. I will never forget it.
Thank you parkrun!
Ben – A4825827
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