Coming from a non-running background, parkrun has had quite an impact on Manny Usman’s life over the last five years. Prior to that, he didn’t like to run and always avoided it, however, the day he literally walked into the first Ipswich QLD parkrun in February 2014 changed his life.
Our local councillor and the team were very persuasive (or more so, wouldn’t take “no” for an answer) and I signed up. It was never the plan to do more than one, but here I am, 199 parkruns later.
The atmosphere at parkrun is very friendly and I was made to feel welcome. Everyone is encouraging and supportive, regardless of your ability. Becoming the first parkrunner of the month set me on a path I didn’t expect. Since then, I made many new friends and this opened the doors to new challenges (10km runs, half marathons, marathons, trail running, triathlons (sprint to Olympic), half ironmans and my first Ironman in Cairns this year).
Perhaps the biggest impact from parkrun was on my health. I have hypertension which means my blood pressure is high (I was taking blood pressure medication then). This can lead to stroke and heart disease.
The lifestyle gained from running and triathlons changed me both physically and mentally.
This year marks 5 years being medication free.
My heart specialist said I cannot get rid of my hypertension, but exercise and eating the right food (I do balance it with some decadent treats) has kept the blood pressure at bay. My confidence has greatly improved which affected my work and social life in a good way. My friends from parkrun are a major positive influence. I love watching their amazing journeys and they keep inspiring me to strive for more.
It’s a clique, I know, but I really wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for parkrun.
I’ll always be grateful to Ipswich QLD parkrun founding run director, Rochelle Vaisanen, former local councillor Andrew Antoniolli, and parkrun Event Ambassador and Ipswich Event Director, Kay Sherlock, as well as the weekly Run Directors and volunteers who made this weekly Saturday activity a part of our lives. I feel blessed and proud to be part of the parkrun family.
Trust me, if I can do it, so can you. parkrun is a game-changer for me. I highly recommend it because the benefits are so good for you, both inside and out. The positive energy from fellow runners will keep you coming back. And who knows where you might end up!
Emmanuel (Manny) Usman
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