News - 28th April 2021

Be proud of who you are

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Cherie Martin has a rare disease – Nail Patella Syndrome. Don’t worry if you have never heard of it, many medical specialists haven’t either. As a result, Cherie has taken it upon herself to educate them in order to get the right care.

 

18 months ago, Cherie finally gave in to her mum’s request to join her at parkrun, and immediately caught the parkrun bug! After a few months, her confidence began to grow.

 

Essentially I have tiny knee caps that roll often and I can’t straighten my elbows, long jaw, extra little bones on my hips – so my body is slightly awkward. Eventually, it may lead to kidney failure – just on a timer waiting for that day.

 

I have always felt ashamed by the way I look. From a very young age, I was bullied often due to my skeletal differences – Inspector Gadget was one of the nicer names used when introduced to others.

 

The simple things in life as a child, I found difficult – cartwheels, hand stands, basically anything that require straight arms. Even now, I am highly likely to drop anything that is handed to me over a counter as I can’t turn my palms up. Jumping and intense running cause pain and swelling. My body also doesn’t retain protein, so building up muscle strength to support running and recovery is extremely difficult to do.

 

When I was 19, I was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis. I had severe keloid scarring as a result. So for many many years, although I have a small build, I wanted to cover up because of my scars, bent arms and nobbly knees.

 

I eventually went to parkrun one weekend after many attempts from my mum to get me there. I’m glad I went.

 

Within a few months I was volunteering and this was probably the most rewarding and satisfying experience I had felt at the time – capturing the memories for people on their parkrun journey.

 

In February 2020, I was able to walk at parkrun for World Rare Disease day – this was an opportunity to raise awareness for Nail Patella Syndrome. My partner (an incredible support for me) and friends, joined me at Sandgate parkrun wearing maroon at a parkrun event that won’t fall on this day again until 2048! This was a very emotional experience for me and it was this day that I realised that this is what parkrun is all about. The feeling of acceptance, no matter what size, shape you are. There is no judgement and there are so many people out there to support you on your running journey.

 

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During the pandemic I googled – lots! And slowly practised how to run each weekend with the parkyfromhome crew – shoutout to Keryn Klein here! I trained, I did strength building, but I was longing for parkrun to return.

 

November 2020 – parkrun! the overwhelming feeling that the community was coming back together again.

 

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In January 2021, nearly 18 months since my first parkrun, I ran my first 5km non-stop. The joy, the elation that I had finally been able to do this was so overwhelming. Yes, it took me 38mins, but I ran the 5k non-stop.

 

Words cannot express how much parkrun has positively impacted my life. The diversity, the inclusiveness, the acceptance, my mental health- parkrun has provided to me. Each week immediately after parkrun, my partner and I are already planning on the next ‘tourist’ location. This year, I have new goals – one of them to achieve the 50 milestone.

 

A special thanks to my mum, Ros Lowe, for her strength, stubbornness and perseverance. Thank you to my partner, Ian Gayton, for joining me on my running journey and starting his own! Thank you to my dear friends for their support, registering for parkrun and encouraging me along the way.

 

 

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And a big thank you to parkrun – my physical and mental health is stronger now.

 

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Today, I don’t care who stares, because I have a story. Just like many of you do as well.

 

Be proud of who you are, no matter what. And don’t let anyone hold you back.

 

Cherie Martin

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