When 75 year old Mary Gehrmann completes Rocks Riverside parkrun in Brisbane, she’s always proud to come in first place – in her age group, that is.
Mary took up parkrun in 2016 at age 71 and came from a background of little to no physical activity. She is now encouraging more in her age bracket to come along and give it a go – once parkrun is back up and running again, of course.
Mary said her daughter Michelle first got her along to parkrun.
“I said but I can’t run, I can only walk but Michelle said that would be ok.
“I now ‘jalk’ though – walk but jog a little,” Mary said.
Mary has now completed 105 parkruns and while she “paused” her parkrun journey a little earlier than others – stopping in November last year to take up Saturday morning swimming lessons - she can’t wait for it to return.
Mary said she loved that parkrun provided her with a weekly excuse to catch up with her daughter. Rocks Riverside is not her closest course, but that’s where she goes for the family connection.
She also said her fitness had improved immensely, but like so many others, it was the friendships and support that kept her going.
“It’s such a beautiful walk around Rocks Riverside anyway, but the companionship, community, getting to know people and the encouragement is what keeps me coming back.
“I may be near the end, but I’m always first as I’m the only one over 70.
“People come and meet me at the 4km mark to encourage me to keep going,” Mary said.
A major accident that left Mary’s arm in a sling didn’t stop her parkrunnig either – she went along to volunteer instead.
Not bothered by times or improving PBs, Mary said she loved feeling fitter. She now does aqua aerobics classes as well.
“Week one I thought I would never make it, but then all of a sudden I was at a hundred parkruns, which was very exciting,” Mary said.
The post-parkrun cafe chat is also something Mary loves.
“More people in my age bracket need to be doing more of this. Not just the walking and jogging, but the companionship. parkrun is great for meeting people.
“I would say to people: just go. Just swallow your pride and go. You’re never too old. The companionship means nothing else matters and you feel so good when you’re finished. You have something better in life than watching TV or listening to people complain,” Mary said.
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