As the gaze of the sporting world falls onto the Tokyo Olympics, regular parkrunner Judy Pollock will be taking a keener interest than most.
At the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Judy won a bronze medal in the 400 metres, the first of her three Olympic Games. Between 1965 and 1967, she set world records at 440 yards, 800 metres, and 880 yards.
81-year-old Judy admits that she moves at a shuffle nowadays. Not that has stopped her from taking part in over 80 parkruns.
Judy admits that after a lifetime of training morning and night, she wasn’t sure she was interested in getting up early on a Saturday to take part in parkrun. “When my local parkrun started, I thought if I went along and joined in, it might help the parkrun grow. That was my main aim.”
“But since then, it’s changed a lot and I enjoy going every weekend, and I’m sorry if I have to miss it.”
Much of Judy’s enjoyment from parkrun is that it is an active activity to share with friends. “I’m a retiree and we all need company, and the social side is a very big thing,” she says.
But does that fierce competitive spirit that propelled Judy to Olympic medals and world records still burn?
“In my 50s and 60s, I tried to run and people would sometimes say ‘I beat Judy Pollock’ and I’d say ‘I don’t like that sound’. But now when people say ‘I came in front of you’, I think, good for you.”
“You don’t have to be a runner to join in parkrun, you can do whatever you like, and you get to enjoy it just the same. parkrun keeps you active because it welcomes you with such joy and pleasure.”
Tayla Taseff loves crossing the parkrun finish line before her dad Steve each week. Steve pushes Tayla, 22, around parkrun in her “purple peanut” wheelchair each week. Tayla has cerebral palsy, but she refers to it as “cool people syndrome”. “We are very cool humans,” Tayla said. Tayla is not wheelchair-bound…
Leanne Hall has lived most of her life experiencing up to 10 seizures a day. After her fourth brain surgery, she is now getting used to living seizure free. Leanne credits parkrun for playing a huge part in her recovery. I was diagnosed with a dysembryoplastic neuroepithelial (DNET) brain tumour the size of a…