As a Senior Lecturer in tourism and events at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Aaron Tkaczynski has used examples of parkrun events in his classes as an ultimate leisure and sporting experience for tourists, residents and volunteers.
I have just crossed the line and feel euphoric. The nerves from the start of the race are gone. The pain of trying to press on past the 4km mark has now subsided. It is not yet 7.30am and I have done my necessary exercise for the day. I now feel inspired to talk to someone I don’t know. And I’m introverted. If I see a volunteer I thank them for helping out.
Aaron first attended parkrun in late 2014 after a friend invited him to come along and try a run. As a keen sports fan and having a competitive nature, Aaron thought he would have a go.
Fast forward almost 7 years and Aaron has run 195 parkruns and volunteered 28 times and is a strong advocate of parkrun and thinks everyone should have a go.
My greatest achievement thus far is managing to complete 4 different parkruns in 4 different countries across a four week period in January/February 2020- (Stavanger [Norway], Forest Rec [England], Rocks Riverside [Australia] and Western Springs [New Zealand]! Not sure if this has been done by anyone worldwide before.
The benefits from parkrun are many. Here are a few.
As a participant, when I first started I had hoped to be able to run a 5 kilometre course in under 20 minutes. I didn’t think this goal could be achieved. Yet with a bit of practice and determination I was able to achieve this. I have achieved several personal bests (PBs) and know there are also many runners that I have met doing aiming for these same achievements that have become friends and have spurred me on. I also know that I feel much healthy physically and also emotionally running most Saturday mornings.
As a volunteer, I love the opportunity to interact with different groups of people. As a frequent barcode scanner for a course I frequently visit (Maryborough in Queensland, Australia) I have found it great to talk with the locals about how their week has been. Although I know parkrun is run for free, I know that for these events to continue, I need to occasionally help. Although I get the extrinsic benefit of being seen and photographed, it is also beneficial to know intrinsically I am helping someone else I may never get the opportunity to meet achieve a goal.
As a tourist, I have run 30 different courses in diverse locations such as Durham (England), Green Point (Cape Town- South Africa), Albert Park (Melbourne- Australia) and Stavanger (Norway). I have experienced the different seasons (e.g. very hot and freezing) and run across either muddy paths or concrete paths. I have climbed mountains (literally in Norway), run alongside rivers and seen parts of cities and towns I would never had known had existed if I hadn’t done the local parkrun. I have found that if I am organising a trip away I’ll see if I can sneak a Saturday morning into a trip prior to returning home.
As an observer, it is always great to see people that are disadvantaged either physically, intellectually or emotionally gain excitement and confidence in participating in these events. I will notice people of all different types and aim to say hello to them when passing them.
This has been my story for approximately 7 years. The benefits are listed above. I cannot believe that I have spent over 4 years of Saturday mornings participating in these community events. But I have found that once I started either running or volunteering I found it good for both the mind and the soul. I trust and know you will too.
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