The Eccles family have shared their parkrun journey together. It has evolved as the children have grown, got faster but one constant is their desire to participate together.
It hasn’t always been sunshine and PBs. We didn’t start out with the intention to achieve 1000 parkruns as a family, but that’s where we are and we want more. Not for bragging rights, but because it is our tradition, it’s our time together. Even when the kids are a lot faster than us, we still attend together.
Here’s the scene: there’s me, the mother, wanting to have some time to myself, to exercise in a safe, non-judgmental space, and quite frankly have some time away from the kids. And there are the kids; full of energy, wanting to do everything we’re doing. So parkrun began as a solo venture in 2013, but soon enough it became a family thing. Our family’s thing. Everyone joined parkrun in 2014, Ava was 5, Arden 7 and Jai was 9.
I know I had decided early on in our marriage it was important that the kids be involved in sports and, more importantly, run if they were physically able to.
Our children have been blessed with great physical prowess, but the thing I loved immediately about parkrun is that everyone is welcome, no matter how fast or slow, no matter what your abilities are.
I wanted to know if our children were ever in danger, they could run away as best they could, that we had nurtured that skill in them, as parents. Kids are pretty smart though. They figured out pretty quick that running is hard.
We did have to bribe them with milkshakes afterwards, and $5 rewards per PB. As their times got faster, and under 25 minutes, they successfully negotiated for increased cash rewards which were well deserved.
Jai, 16, has gone on to get our family’s fastest time of 16.14 at Burnie, Tasmania. Arden, 13, broke 21 minutes by one second at our home run in Launceston, Ava, 12, ran 23.28, my husband Tim, 39, has run 22.05 and I was very pleased to get 24.56, way back when. Jai has gone on to take his running more seriously by accepting the offer of Olympic Marathon runner and Dietician, Milly Clark as his coach and mentor.
The times aren’t as important now as they were back then. Growing pains, sickness, injury and work are some of the usual things that stand in the way of all of us participating in parkrun. I often will have the thought to just sleep in Saturday morning, especially when the puddles are frozen and your lungs hurt from the cold air. But we have committed to doing this, together as a family for as long as we can.
I would love my future grandkids to notch up some km as well, that would make me so proud.
parkrun has brought us so many great memories, taken us to many a spectacular view, we’ve made friends we would have never met otherwise while building resilience and self-confidence. Volunteering, (which we could always do more of), has been a great way for us to give back to the beautiful running community that has supported us all the way. It is lovely to be acknowledged for achieving this milestone together.
We took another big step forward last Saturday as 5k events returned in Denmark, the ninth country to see events restart post-COVID, plus we welcomed back junior parkrun events in Scotland. In total nearly 60,000 people took part in 775 events around the world last weekend, including nearly 2,500 for the very first time….
With the restart of 72 events in Poland, last weekend saw the most parkrun events take place globally since the pandemic began last March. Nearly 66,000 individuals participated at one of 768 events across eight countries. Every event that restarts represents a huge step forward and should give all of us great reassurance and…