Cristiano Bonato recently celebrated his 500th 5k parkrun milestone at San Remo parkrun and invited many of his parkrun friends to celebrate with him. Cristiano’s partner, Mirjam, shares more.
When I met Cristiano seven years ago, he asked me if I knew about parkrun. “It’s a timed 5k which happens every Saturday morning”, he said. But before he had a chance to tell me more about it, such as the great community vibe, the fun and the great people, I had completely dismissed the idea. However, given Cristiano’s strong passion for parkrun, I felt I should at least give it a go. I went along and did so again and again, and again… fairly soon becoming a parkrun regular myself!
However, this story is not about me. It’s about the infectious way Cristiano spreads his passion for parkrun and his journey to his recent milestone of 500 5k parkruns. This is how Cristiano discovered parkrun, in his own words:
‘Nice to meet you’, he said. ‘My name is John. Sorry to interrupt your run but I just wanted to let you know that there’s a 5k event every Saturday at 9am a few hundred meters from here at Bushy Park, in case you want to join at some point. I ran it this morning myself and it was good fun’.
Whilst trying to catch my breath and slightly surprised by the odd approach, I told him that I would check it out online. And so I did! The next Saturday at 9am I was at my first parkrun. From then on, rain, hail or shine, my Saturday mornings became parkrun mornings!”
Over the years, there have been quite a few changes in Cristiano’s life, but parkrun has constantly followed him. When he moved to Australia in 2014, he joined the Parramatta parkrun community, where he ran and volunteered as a Run Director. In 2021, we moved to the Central Coast and coincidentally, San Remo parkrun was less than 1km from our new house. Some of his friends are still questioning if it was just a ‘coincidence’ that the house was so close to a parkrun!
Cristiano promotes parkrun wherever he can. If you walk or run past him a few times, he will almost certainly invite you to parkrun, just like John did for him back in 2007. It’s nice to see some of these people the following Saturday. He finds it gratifying to help others, either by volunteering or by giving a few words of encouragement.
On 11 February 2023, the big day arrived – Cristiano’s 500th 5k parkrun! So many joined wearing their favourite parkrun shirts, socks, visors or wearing blue for the 500 milestone colour. There was lots of laughter, chats, a barbecue, cake and coffee. Certainly a day to remember!
“My parkrun journey is full of great moments, special friends and great people. A journey that is more than just a run. Thank you to parkrun and John, for introducing me to it on that warm Saturday of 2007!”
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