News - 17th December 2021

Age is just a number

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parkrunners aged 80 and over have been celebrated at a special ‘Octogenarian’ event at Wynnum parkrun in Brisbane.


Ten parkrunners in their 80s and three in their 90s, who travelled from Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, showed that parkrun truly is for all ages by walking and running the 5km course along the foreshore.


Octogenarian celebration days at parkrun have been taking place since 2017, when two London parkrunners invited their fellow Octogenarians around the UK to join them at the home of parkrun in Bushy Park.


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Mitchelton parkrunner Rob Prickett, who drove 45 minutes to Wynnum for the 7am start, has made parkrun a habit since being introduced to it by his son.


“It was great to travel to a different parkrun and meet other parkrunners in my age group. parkrun contributes to my fitness and there are always kind and considerate people. You are not racing anybody, you are just enjoying the event.”


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Minnippi parkrun regular John Scollary believes parkrun is a great way for older people to meet their neighbours and maintain a connection to their community.


“I have met so many walkers and runners through parkrun who I have become friends with and I enjoy meeting them every week. I also volunteer, either as a course marshall, timekeeper or scanner.


“Many older people in Australia are living on their own and do not have a great circle of friends to go out with. I would encourage them to register with parkrun to run, walk or volunteer and for the friendship of others. You don’t have to run. Just take part.”


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John Taylor from Kawana parkrun on the Sunshine Coast has been parkrunning since Kawana’s second event and is now a veteran of more than 300 parkruns.


“From 2006 to 2012 I was on a slow recovery path after heart surgery. When I was invited to Kawana parkrun I was eager to join in, and completing a parkrun each Saturday is now one of the few reassurances I still have that there’s some life left in this 88-year-old body! An hour in the fresh air with heaps of new friends each Saturday morning can’t be anything but beneficial.”


When Lawrie Bingham heard about the Octogenarian parkrun he thought that Wynnum would be a good place to go on Saturday morning, for a walk along the shore and breakfast afterwards.


“I had only done two parkruns but my wife is approaching 200 parkruns and she was really keen! In our age group there are a high number of people with mobility issues and it was good to see little evidence of this – I was impressed with the enthusiasm and general wellbeing of the octogenarian group.”


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Sandgate parkrunner Colin Mancey, who recently turned 80, said the health and social benefits of parkrun can’t be underestimated.


“The health effects are massive. I really don’t feel my years, I don’t take any medications and I enjoy life to the full. The social benefits are also very important. Probably half my Facebook friends are people I have met at parkrun and now also take part with at other events. It is hard to find a more positive group of people than those at parkrun.


“I have encouraged quite a few people to come to parkrun who have been surprised that I am still doing it and will be for many years to come. I tell them if I can do it then anyone can!”


Wynnum parkrun regular Ken Banfield believes every parkrun in Australia should consider having an Octogenarian celebration day.


“This type of event shows that it is possible for older people to participate in parkrun in a way that will increase their fitness levels and improve their wellbeing. parkrun has kept me active and helped me meet other people, and it was great to meet up with fellow Octogenarians at Wynnum.”


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The Octogenarian event was organised by Allana Bianchi, one of parkrun Australia’s volunteer Outreach Ambassadors, in conjunction with the core volunteer team at Wynnum parkrun.


“My volunteer role is focussed on finding ways to connect local people with parkrun and connecting local parkrunners.


“The people in their eighties and nineties who came to the Octogenarian event are an inspiration and show that age is just a number when it comes to parkrun. I hope these people inspire and encourage other people to give parkrun a try.


“I would encourage any parkrun in the world to replicate this idea. Thanks to the support of the volunteers at Wynnum parkrun and the input of older parkrunners, we decided on a date, put the word out on social media and through our local MP and were lucky to have a local business donate a banner that we will use every year as this will now become an annual event.”


Click here to read more about Octogenarian parkrun events.


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