One walk was all it took to get 94-year-old Honourable Adrian Roden hooked on parkrun, relishing new opportunities to be active and healthy.
Judge Roden completed his first parkrun in North Sydney in February last year, and has now completed 30 parkruns, placing him slightly ahead of the schedule he set for himself.
Having chalked up 150 kilometres in just over 12 months, Judge Roden hit 25 parkruns on 25 January this year, one week before his 94th birthday and said he planned to reach 50 before turning 95 in 2021. “My plan is to do 25 parkruns before my next birthday and the same again for another two years, in order to reach my 100th parkrun,” Judge Roden said.
“parkrun has added an extra dimension to my life, I’m really not sure what I would do without it.”
When not walking the regular 5km free community event, Judge Roden said he hoped to volunteer to maintain weekly contact with the parkrun community. “People say it’s like a second family. The friendship of the people at North Sydney is quite remarkable. It’s the nicest group of people that you could imagine meeting, who really were complete strangers to me prior.
“On the day of my 25th parkrun they put on a party for me and presented me with a special T-shirt where we normally go for coffee after the run. There was a cake and speeches, it was wonderful. I believe I’m particularly lucky to have found this exceptional group of people. They still keep in touch with me even now that parkrun has been suspended due to the Coronavirus – one of the members phoned to check if I needed any help buying groceries” Judge Roden said.
Often asked ‘what’s the secret’ to a long and healthy life, Judge Roden insisted there wasn’t one. Just the luck of the genetic draw, followed by all the obvious sensible things, he said.
North Sydney parkrun Run Director, Paul Harper, revealed more about Judge Roden’s competitive spirit. “Before attempting his first parkrun Adrian watched for a few weeks, seated on a nearby park bench.
“The interesting participation data that parkrun produces for parkrunners appeals to Adrian’s analytical mind, it allows members to compare their own performance against others in the same age group and Adrian was delighted to find he was not alone” Paul said. “Everyone relates to and enjoys Adrian’s company, despite him not listening to their gentle cautions to slow down a little – he is very competitive, regularly completing 5km in around 50 minutes.”
The decision to suspend parkrun events worldwide in response to the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way parkrunners interact on Saturday mornings, so to see communities like North Sydney continuing to offer support to each other outside the usual event format is truly heartwarming.
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