On Saturday October 31, Wagi Bridge celebrated the return of parkrun to the ACT and its first birthday. With just 19 events completed at Wagi Bridge, their first year provided plenty of challenges.
Wagi Bridge parkrun held its first event on the 26th of October 2019 and after only 8 parkruns was interrupted with cancellations over the following three weeks due to poor air quality from bushfire smoke in the area.
The event team was really getting into a groove with a good number of finishers each week supported by wonderful volunteers. Once the air quality had improved another 10 parkruns were held until the global cancellation of parkruns due to the pandemic.
When it was announced parkrun was to return to the ACT the Wagi Bridge event team jumped into action straight away to get the volunteer roster filled, QR check-in signage sorted, hand sanitizer sourced and social media communications planned. There was so much anticipation and excitement for the big day to celebrate the return of parkrun in the ACT and Wagi Bridge’s first birthday.
On the day it was clear the parkrun community was just as excited as shown by the crowd building up earlier than normal. After a welcome back to parkrun run brief from Event Director Ian Shaw the parkrunners were sent off from the start line with cheers.
The weather on the day was uncannily similar to that on the last parkrun at Wagi Bridge back in March where the heavens opened towards the end of the event where the loyal volunteers got drenched cheering the last few finishers to cross the finish line.
In the lead up to the return of parkrun Wagi Bridge Event Director Ian Shaw shared his thoughts on what this meant to him…
I have been involved in parkrun as a runner and as a volunteer since 25th January 2014. Running for me has always been a solo activity, a post work destressor, a way of keeping in shape and fit. Pretty soon after joining parkrun at Gungahlin my life was shattered by some pretty unsavoury workplace and family life events. The parkrun community pretty soon became my family, my social outlet, an escape from autism in the home and teaching individuals with autism in the workplace. A way of getting a better work, home, leisure life balance.
And haven’t I met some amazing individuals over the last six years with my parkrun journey. I have too many memorable moments to list from my parkrun tourism ventures to watching the Wagi Bridge parkrunners snake across the undulations as the Run Director for our launch. GunRunners, Gungahlin’s extension of the parkrun community has taught me how to laugh and enjoy life once again.
With the on set of COVID-19 and the cancellation of parkrun those closest to me have recognised that I have once again battled the black dog with memory flashbacks of my world being ripped out from under me. I have been one of the lucky ones in terms of holding a secure job and living with a roof over my head that has remained relatively unaffected by COVID-19. But my distress has come from the very breakdown of the fabric that typifies parkrun. The Saturday morning healthy lifestyle parkrun and post event coffee catch-up. The weekly GunRunner meet ups and Sunday morning long runs. Suddenly that was snatched away from my weekly destressor rituals.
But wait! How have I got through since Wagi Bridge parkrun has been cancelled. Those closest to me that have recognised my struggles have been in touch, have kept me connected, have asked me with messages RUokay, have had me talking through my battles, all of whom I met through parkrun and GunRunners. The very people who had me hit the highs of running my first marathon at age 51, completing UTA50 thriving in the tough challenges at a thoroughly enjoyable weekend away, the people who had me laughing through friendly competition to reach 50 different parkrun events as a tourist.
parkrun is a unique and special community. At our relaunch this Saturday if you see me shed a tear or two it will be welcome tears of joy. The knowing feeling that parkrun is back! That people’s lives, not just my own will once again be touched by the unique community experience that is parkrun!!!
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