While most parkrunners might learn of CONTRA after they start parkrun, it was the opposite for Lithgow parkrunner Cathy Rood.
Before 2018, Cathy was – in her words – morbidly obese and last year, lost 46kg. She’s now lost 65kg all up and credits finding parkrun, and sticking with the running routine during the pandemic, to helping her maintain her weight, health and fitness.
A friend suggested Cathy try CONTRA to help her feel good about getting in active wear.
“I found out about CONTRA when I was really big and was not doing parkrun at all.
“My friend thought the tops might suit me. I looked into it and loved how they had sizes that fitted me and that were proper fitness gear. I bought a top. It felt nice and fitted well. But then I started to lose weight quite quickly so it became too big. I have always looked for companies that acknowledge that fitness wear is not just for slim people,” Cathy said.
In a normal year, Cathy, who lives in the Blue Mountains in Sydney, would be about to celebrate her first anniversary of parkrunning.
The COVID-19 pandemic put an end to that, but despite the parkrun pause, Cathy has taken her running from strength to strength.
“I’d always been a walker, but I was never a runner,” Cathy said.
On a weekend away to visit her husband’s family late last year, Cathy and her husband were invited to Armidale parkrun. “They said they walked/ran and I thought I could do that. I found it quite hard. I’m used to bushwalking where I might cover 5km in a whole day,” Cathy said.
Back at home and now with the parkrun bug, she decided to join a friend at Bathurst parkrun. By the end of last year, Cathy and her friend discovered Lithgow parkrun. “I was still walking. We’d do Lithgow one week, Bathurst the other.”
Already knowing people in Lithgow, it was easy for Cathy to slip into the Lithgow parkrun community, so joining in for coffee afterwards was a natural step. “They are a really welcoming, small parkrun. We only get about 30 people each week. It’s right in the bush. We start at a pony club, run up into a gully, there’s trees all around, really nice,” Cathy said.
As she started out, Cathy was running about a quarter of the course but was always building up. On the final weekend before all parkruns around the world were postponed, Cathy did her first volunteering stint and handed out finish tokens.
During the pause, Cathy created her own parkrun course, which then turned into her (not)parkrun course by running to a fork in the road, 2.5km from her house.
“I live on a dead end country road with farms and orchards, looking out on to the Blue Mountain escarpment. There’s a fork in the road 2.5km from my house. When COVID hit we thought we’d do that as our parkrun. It’s in Blackheath on the Shipley plateau, so I call it Shipley parkrun.
“One day I ran half way then walked back. But now I’ve built up to running the whole 5km.”
Cathy now realises she is a runner and that it doesn’t matter how long it takes to start or at what pace you go. “I’ve just really enjoyed the feeling of running. And live in such a beautiful part of the world, so we are really blessed to live up here and run.”
Cathy loves having parkrun back in New South Wales. “I want to thank the whole parkrun for bringing this activity to the world. I love everything about it. It has changed my life and allowed me to meet up with current friends and make new ones,” she said.
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