Victoria parkrun in Kitchener, Ontario celebrated its 25th parkrun this last weekend and is continuing to welcome new faces – but today we meet a couple of families who have made parkrun part of their weekly routine.
Mainstays of our parkrun have been, and continue to be, two families who participate every week and make the parkrun part of their weekly family ritual – the Mabifa family (with us since event #1) and the Percival family (with us since event #13).
This week we sat with dad Olasunkanmi (or Ola for short) Mabifa and from the Percival family mom Liz, partner to Will and parent to Katherine (12), Douglas (11) and Edith (7). We asked them specifically why the parkrun has become part of their weekly schedule. We also wondered what benefits they believe comes from taking part each week.
Both families originally found out about parkrun in the UK from people they knew who were already involved. Ola and Liz were immediately bitten by the bug. Ola “enjoyed the atmosphere, it was a very large group of runners, joggers and walkers; the environment was friendly and motivating“. Liz had a similar experience, commenting: “the community atmosphere and ease of registering & running was fantastic”.
The Mabifa family had all been running regularly before Victoria parkrun Kitchener; they were members of a local running club and the children were used to running about 5k or more on weekends, so it has apparently been easy to keep them motivated. The Percivals started their children off in the junior parkrun events (2km distance) held at various locations in the UK on Sunday mornings. For them, parkrun was near to their home so that seemed the perfect way to get the kids started.
“It has provided opportunities for maintaining fitness, socializing with the locals and also volunteering to keep the parkrun going” said Ola.
Liz noted that her family “has running on both sides of the family; my mum has done a good number of marathons, Grandad Bill is a regular parkrunner and my uncle was a champion orienteer. The generation link is a benefit I try to foster… For us, running is a family affair; a tradition to talk about and share. We can’t have Grandad or Nanny being able to run too much further/faster than any of us. It’s nice that they can track our results remotely too and catch up with the Victoria parkrun, Kitchener News”.
Ola would advise parents to bring their children to the weekly parkrun as it’s a good way of keeping fit and getting them ready for various sporting activities at school, like track and field, cross country and even other games like basketball, soccer and volleyball. His advice for parents? Simply put: “running is good for both physical and mental wellbeing”.
Liz’s advice would be to just “give it a go and make a commitment to doing it a few times, say three or four, for a reward worth having. Keep it light and fun. Anyone can do this; it doesn’t matter if you walk or run. The times don’t matter, they can become a personal incentive but you can knock up a tally for number of runs just as easily”.
Both families love the atmosphere and friendliness at Victoria parkrun, Kitchener, and both families are a big part of making that atmosphere happen. Their children are all a credit to their parents… they don’t complain, even if it is a little on the cold side, they smile and take off like a shot at the start of the run. They are happy to run a little and then walk a little, and as they get older they run a little more and start bringing down those PBs. Yep, they will be passing us old-timers at the end of the runs in the very near future… and isn’t that great to see.
Our event has other regulars; those who train for other events such as triathlons and marathons, using parkrun as a break from the regular running schedule, as well as our walkers who just enjoy the exercise and sharing time with friends while going around the lake in beautiful Victoria Park, Kitchener. The event also hosts a steady stream of international visitors visiting the local universities or family and friends in the area.
If you are out our way, please come and join us for a walk or a run, followed by coffee at our local coffee shop… and why not bring your kids along!
By Martin Fisher, Victoria parkrun, Kitchener volunteer
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