Mark Parrott always thought he was the black sheep of the family. With siblings who were always active, he never thought he’d feel at home at parkrun.
But Mark quickly discovered how inclusive parkrun is.
Rewinding a bit, my sister was suggesting that I should do parkrun for quite a while as I needed to become active. Finally one day in September 2017 I finally took her advise and went to my first parkrun in Willoughby… little did I know the future that would be ahead.
I was always self conscious that I would be really slow, at times I still am usually hitting around the 1 hour mark. If I am perfectly honest, sometimes I don’t make the 5km.
At the end of 2018 I was involved in a bike accident fracturing my ankle. This has made it a challenge to make the distance at times, however the inclusivity of parkrun is something I love. Sure sometimes I “cheat” a little bit, but for me the philosophy of parkrun is getting people out for self improvement. The parkrun community helps me to continue to get out of bed on Saturday mornings.
The accident did make me realise how much I loved the community and I kept returning to Willoughby despite still being in a moon-boot, volunteering as time keeper or barcode scanner. It was nice to get the VIP treatment and be served up with a chair to sit on as well!
I finally got back to parkrun with the encouragement of all my siblings proudly completing the Mudjimba Beach parkrun in 1:16:12, the same weekend they were doing longer runs as part of the running festival on the Sunshine Coast. This was a reminder that parkrun is all inclusive despite me being very self conscious about being so slow.
I have always been happy to volunteer for something that is free and getting people out to exercise but I never thought I would become a Run Director. I made my debut on 22nd February 2020 with the support of my siblings being there as well!
I still struggle with the distance usually preferring to ride rather than walk or run but the community of parkrun keeps me coming back.
I just reached the newly minted 25 club for walking/running and 37 for volunteering. My goal now is to reach a 50 double.
Thank you so my sister Nerida for convincing me to get out there and for the inclusive parkrun community for never being judgemental and giving everyone the opportunity to get out there to improve themselves.
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