My name is Pattie Hogan and I have been participating in Taree parkrun in New South Wales for almost six years. I am 71 and have volunteered 98 times.
In May 2015 I read in our local paper that a parkrun would be launching near me, and that I could run the 5km or walk and there was no pressure.
I was hooked from day one as our event is held on the riverbank in Taree. It’s certainly a great place to be on a Saturday morning, walking along enjoying the sun on the river as we complete our 5kms.
The first few weeks I was happy to walk along with a few people who were going at my pace, then I started to jog. The first time I improved my time by 12 minutes!
I was not concerned with PBs, at this stage of my life it was the enjoyment of people I met, the breakfast afterwards, friends I made. I truly embraced the concept of parkrun.
I volunteered in the various positions then decided maybe I could become a volunteer Run Director. Our parkrun team welcomed me on board and I loved the role of Run director. The team were much younger than I and I needed a bit more training in uploading the results. My fellow RDs, Daniel and Fiona, were very supportive in getting me up to speed with the parkrun requirements online.
I would walk one week then volunteer. As RD I posted photos on our Facebook page encouraging and motivating people to join.
“One of the posts that resonated with me was “Come as a stranger, leave with a friend”
This was something about parkrun I really enjoyed. Participants who came on their own soon made friends with others and were enjoying coffee together. Women pushing prams, Men pushing prams, wheelchair participants, people coming to shed some kilos, young men and women pushing themselves to achieve PBs, older people doing amazing times, supporting others to keep going. It is truly what I call a parkrun family.
In 2017 I had back surgery on my L3,4,5 so this was a setback but eventually I got back to parkrun. No more running on concrete paths – doctor’s orders – but walking will be okay. I slowly got back to completing two laps plus my volunteering and RD role and life was great again with parkrun then breakfast with all my friends who I had made during the previous few years.
Then in 2018 I was thrown another curve ball when I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Six months of chemotherapy followed, the first two months of which I was too unwell to attend parkrun. I missed it terribly, so when I was able I would go down wearing my headscarf or bandana to have breakfast with my friends. I will be ever thankful for the wonderful support I received from my parkrun friends.
Chemotherapy finished at the end of January 2019. I had to wait until the 9th of March to see the specialist, three days before my birthday. I was given the news that I had knocked 25 tumours out and I was in remission. This photo was taken not long after my hair grew back after chemotherapy, we looked after this orphaned goat for a parkrunner. We are a caring parkrun family.
I was back at parkrun volunteering not doing the 5kms walk at that stage until I built up my strength, but it was just so good to be back doing what I enjoy on a Saturday morning – parkrun and breakfast – cheering others on to do their best and enjoy the event.
We started off our 2020 parkrun year on New Year’s day all enthused by what the year would bring. I was about to turn 70 and my husband and I decided to book a trip to New York to celebrate. We were to stay there for 10 days but unfortunately after six days the pandemic put an end to that. New York became a hot spot and the area in Central Park we were walking in became a field hospital a day later. We flew home just after parkrun events in Australia were closed.
With no parkrun, everyone I spoke to was asking if we would ever get back as we all missed it so much. One man who lives alone who I spoke to down the street had become depressed as parkrun was the one day of the week where he had interaction with others. Our parkrun Ambassador Margie Lewis arranged to run with him on Saturdays – this is why I call it the parkrun family.
Thankfully we are back at parkrun now under the new COVID-19 Framework and today I volunteered for the 98th time. I also take the vests, finish tokens and lanyards home each week to launder and wash the tokens.
In these past six years I have seen so many positives from parkrun, I describe it as the best event to have started in our town of Taree.
Only seven more sleeps until the next parkrun…
We’re recruiting! From quiet beginnings, parkrun has grown into a worldwide social movement with community at its beating heart. Committed to breaking down barriers to participation in regular physical activity and bringing communities together, we deliver free, weekly, timed events that people of all ages and backgrounds can take part in – as…
Global Running Day is a worldwide celebration of the transformative power of running. On this special day, runners of all levels, from beginners to seasoned athletes, connect to embrace the joy and benefits of running. It’s an opportunity to celebrate your personal running journey, set new goals, and foster a sense of friendship with fellow…