News - 6th March 2019

What inspires me

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This week we hear from Bill Justus, Okanagan parkrun, who tells us how parkrun inspires him, and helps him to fight becoming a ‘Box Person’.


What’s a Box Person?


Have you ever noticed how modern life contains so many boxes? It’s easy to become a ‘Box Person’ – an adult or teen who follows this simple pattern day in, day out: sleep on a box, turn off the box that has a set alarm to get us up, stand in front of a box, to open a box, and find food, packing a box with food to take into the box with wheels, where we sit at a box, typing on boxes, while in a box for the day.  Then getting in the box with wheels, to go home to the box and watch TV on a box to get back on the box to fall asleep.


I try to fight being a box person in some aspect every day. For the most part, I’m a simple old guy just trying like everyone else to get through to the next day, week year, with as little frustration as possible! I have classified myself as a runner most of my life. I am about to be 56 and have been actively running for 45 of those years.


I start my day the same every day, just after 5am. 30min stretching, to stay limber. I then head to work where I have written down my goals for the week, and I’m committed to making them happen. I work on the next week’s goals or yearly plan, which allows me to dream of things to come. I try to remember the childlike Bill – the one who climbed trees, ran up steep cliffs to jump from high branches into cool lakes on hot summer days.  He was the one with no limits, was fearless, everything was possible. This time reminds me that even though I’m now much older everything is still possible if you dare to get out of your box and dream it.


Why do I write my goals down, and why so early? Because I find that I get more done that way. My energy levels are higher, the gym is silent, the trails are full of birds and the planet adds to my own self awakening.


One of my current goals is getting in shape for another marathon – a distance I had said I was so done with! While training for this recently at a local gym, I was asked by a trainer…


What inspires me?


Whoa! Did that cause me to stop and think.


As I started to speak, I could have told her about stories of past races I have run, or distances that to some seem superhuman. I could have told her about my successes and failures while partaking in the pastime I choose to exhaust myself on – how I find meaning in thousands of miles on trail, treadmill and road. Or the relief of recently discovering that I don’t have the Alzheimer’s gene, the terrible disease that took both my grandpa 25 years ago and my dad in 2018.


Instead, I told her about parkrun – simple community, smiles and camaraderie. Opening doors to health and wellness, to leave an indelible mark on my town through the people I touch with fitness and parkrun. Through parkrun I have seen the successes in people.  I have seen monumental gains made by new runners/walkers.


As I thought about it more, here are a few things that keep me inspired.


  1. Kids! Unlike many of us, children are not jaded with years of being a Box Person, they still see things for what they truly are. A carrot is a good as a piece of candy to a young one – it’s food! And a smile from anyone will get one in return.  As we become box people, we lose that, we don’t just smile to get a smile back!
  2. The weather is always a source of awe-inspiring power… imagine for one second you could capture the life created by a single drop of rain or ray of sunshine. Imagine how powerful you could be if you could become part of the amazing thunder of the ocean waves or the deafening quiet of the desert. It’s with both joy and angst I find in overcoming the obstacles of Mother Nature.
  3. parkrun! Without a doubt the most community-oriented event I have ever seen, with the emptiness of the start line at 8:45 to the conversations that are transpiring just 10 min later.  If you ever wonder what makes parkrun special, get there early and just watch! People drop out of thin air with smiles on their faces excited to be up and ready to partake in not only the physical but the emotional joy of it all. Somehow for a brief 5k, we cease to be a box person. With childlike joy we arrive on Saturday to see our little parkrun family. We find that friendly smile and the weather no matter how warm or cold, wet or dry we overcome Mother Nature’s little obstacle.


When I’m at parkrun, I’m not a Box Person


For me, parkrun takes us back to when things were simple. Like when we were kids, parkrun is friendship, joy, weather and camaraderie – it doesn’t get much better than that! Try to find that kid that played hard and jumped to the crisp clear water of a lake on a hot summer’s day – as adults we call them vacations, but we as parkrunners have been given a gift of a 5k vacation every Saturday! No stressors, no commitments, just being in the moment with lots of random smiles and high fives.


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So share the joy – inspire someone else to find a new Saturday morning routine. Bring them to your local parkrun – they will be hooked, guaranteed!


What inspires me? Simple really, ALL OF YOU! I am smiling at you all now – and I bet you’re smiling back!


Bill Justus, Okanagan parkrun Event Director and Ambassador


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