John Cole was the first person to celebrate their 50th parkrun at Taman Pudu Ulu and he shares his journey and the impact parkrun has on him and his family.
Tell us a bit about yourself John
I’m a geologist from the UK and have been living in Malaysia for a little over 2 years with my wife Bethan and daughters Hannah and Emma. I started running 8 years ago when we moved from Cairo to Aberdeen in Scotland. The Egyptian diet wasn’t the healthiest and I had begun to put on too much weight. Running provided a great way to keep fit, maintain a steady weight and continue to enjoy my food. The Scottish diet isn’t the healthiest either!
How did you find out about parkrun? and parkrun Malaysia? What was your first experience of parkrun?
I first heard about parkrun when a park in England wanted to start charging participants back in 2016. This generated a huge amount of media coverage at the time, so I went along to my local event in Bracknell to find out what it was all about. I was amazed at how friendly everyone was and how open they were to all ages and abilities. When we moved to Malaysia, one of the first things I did was to check whether there were any events here. I got in touch with Harry via Facebook and came along for the trial runs. Another super friendly bunch of people. My family had never done parkrun in the UK, so at the launch at Taman Pudu Ulu, I dragged them along and they have now become enthusiastic participants too.
You are one of the very few people at Taman Pudu Ulu to make it to the 50 parkruns – how did you achieve this?
I did about 20 parkruns in the UK before moving to Malaysia, so I had a slight head start. As Taman Pudu Ulu racks up the events, I’m sure there’ll be lots of others ordering their 50 t-shirts soon.
What do you like most about parkrun?
The obvious answer is the breakfasts. Far better in Malaysia than back in the UK and I really look forward to my Roti Canai each week. Of course, I like the people too. Great to catch up with the regulars each week as well as meeting people from all over the world as they drop by to add TPU to their list.
What impact does parkrun have for you and your family?
For me, the weekly parkrun really motivates me to keep up the running and to try and improve. It’s also been fantastic for Bethan and Hannah. Hannah is working towards her Duke of Edinburgh Award and the opportunity to volunteer each week has been a great help. When she’s not volunteering, her running has been steadily improving and she can now beat her Dad. Something she takes great pride in.
How would you encourage newcomers to try parkrun?
The Taman Pudu Ulu parkrun is brilliant for anyone who might be put off because they don’t think they’re fast enough. It really does welcome all abilities whether you take 15 minutes or 75. Both my parents achieved their first ever parkrun success when they were over in KL visiting. For anyone who hasn’t participated yet, just come along and give it a try.
What are your personal ambitions in parkrun? What would you like to see happen to parkrun in Malaysia?
I’d love to run a parkrun in under 25 minutes, but I’m a long way off yet. As for Malaysia, it would be great to see new parkruns popping up. Running is very popular here in KL and I’m sure there’s potential to grow parkrun enormously.
With the upcoming first anniversary of parkrun in Malaysia, it will be exciting to share more milestones in future weeks.
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