Izzy has anxiety and often finds going out and about on her own scary and difficult. She has been a parkrunner since 2014 and finds her local parkrun community offers her a safe space where she feels comfortable and not judged.
My first parkrun was in 2014. My mum had been a few times and she convinced the rest of our family to give it a go, she knew it would be really good for us.
I remember finding everyone at that first parkrun so friendly and welcoming. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, it was the start of a massive running obsession.
I started by doing half laps and built up to the full 5k. Nowadays, loads of our extended family parkrun, even my Nan!
I’m so glad I went along and gave parkrun a go because it truly has had a massive impact on my life. Not only is there the physical health benefit, also there is the feeling of having a community and family that are always there.
I love the feeling I get from taking part in parkrun and from running. I never regret it, ever. I always say to my mum after a parkrun, “I’m so glad I ran.”
From quite a young age I’ve always felt anxious, but now at 16 it has gotten a lot worse over the recent years. Sometimes, I haven’t wanted to go to parkrun because my parents couldn’t attend that week and I needed them by my side, even though I know so many people at our home event. It was just so tough and I missed out on many parkruns that I could’ve gone to.
Sometimes having anxiety really affects my day. It can feel quite scary to go out because I never know what could happen. School can be a particular problem.
A few weeks ago, I surprised my parents, who were away, by getting up and going along to parkrun on my own. This is not something they thought I could currently manage and they were thrilled when they heard my news.
For me parkrun feels like a safe space because I don’t have to worry about being judged as everyone is there for the same reasons, to work on themselves and meet others. No one has to worry about what others think of them or whether they’re going too slow or getting in the way as everyone has a right to be there.
I love the feeling of completing the 5k and I also love the feeling of helping parkrun happen as a volunteer. I really want to volunteer as much as I can and fill out as many roles as possible. I have even had a go at being Run Director! It was over in five minutes, but I really enjoyed helping the core team make the event possible. Volunteering has helped me to get to know everyone, many of whom have become friends.
As a family, we attend our home parkrun most weeks, but recently we have visited some other local parkruns which has been an amazing experience. My mum and dad are completely obsessed with parkrun and even my sister has completed 100 parkruns!
I’d love to achieve my 250th milestone and then on to possibly 500, and obviously get my volunteering milestones along the journey too.
I want to keep on parkrunning and encourage others to give parkrun a try. It may be a while away yet, but I’ll definitely have my kids doing it!
Niamh O’Callaghan, a founding member of the Illaunmanagh parkrun core team, is proud of all that has been achieved in the first year of this event. It took us a few years to get started at Illaunmanagh parkrun. Our inaugural event was two years later than anticipated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We first…
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