Transitioning from military to civilian life can be challenging, and parkrun provides a perfect opportunity for people to connect with their local community, make new friends and create a network beyond the defence force.
Thousands of people around the world in all stages of their military life take part in parkrun, including Liz, an ex-Royal Air Force veteran who has served all over the UK as well as on overseas postings. She got involved in parkrun when she moved to Australia and found a community where she knew she belonged.
When I moved to Australia and realised I was losing my fitness pretty rapidly after leaving the service, I got involved in my local parkrun. Having moved from abroad and knowing absolutely nobody here, the volunteers and other parkrunners made me feel welcome.
I work full time and don’t always have Saturdays free, but when I do my kids often come with me and we join in at parkrun together. There are very few that are actually me walking, jogging, running or volunteering on my own! We are always there for the briefing and to cheer on the first timers, milestones and visiting parkrunners.
parkrun is a fantastic welcoming community, something that can be missing when you leave the forces. Leaving that ready made family can be hard to get used to, especially the fact that people aren’t all in the same boat as you any more.
I would say to any veteran to get down to parkrun and walk, jog, run or volunteer – volunteering is probably the quickest way to get to meet your fellow parkrunners. And make sure to stay for a coffee afterwards!
parkrun gives me an opportunity to improve my personal bests (I know it’s not a race, but I always push a little bit harder in company!) and it shows my kids how important physical activity is.
parkrun has certainly helped me meet people in my local area, connect with others and make lifelong friends.
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