Cheryl Kessack is a regular volunteer at Puarenga parkrun and is popular among the local parkrun community.
Cheryl tells us how she first got involved, why she loves it so much, and why you will too!
I got into parkrun in April 2018. I joined the Rotorua Group Challenge (bootcamp) and I started getting myself fit. I’d never run before, not since primary school and I kind of like the idea.
It was a joke for everyone else that I would run. I started running with RGC and I got up to 3km without stopping. I’d registered for parkrun five months earlier but didn’t get around to going.
Then one day I decided to go and then I went whenever I could.
I like the atmosphere, the lack of competition but to have the feeling of an event (and it’s free!). I really like the stats, to see where I am in relation to where I was previously, even if I am getting slower, I can still see progress based on where I started.
Also, I really love seeing people of all shapes and sizes giving it a go. The ones battling are more inspirational to me than those who are flying. You meet some really interesting characters too.
I’ve run most of my parkruns at Puarenga, but also one while I was in the US. I was there on holiday but made sure we were in a place that had parkrun on the Saturday.
And it’s not just the running. Volunteering gives me the opportunity to participate even when I’m incapacitated. I enjoy making people smile and you get to see everyone you wouldn’t normally see if you were running yourself.
It’s really cool to see the effect you have on people, you see when they smile that it’s helping them. I know what it’s like to be running and not see anyone for a long time. It gives you hope.
I like making people laugh so I like to make myself look ridiculous. I’ve been a bull, horse, rabbit, in a wetsuit, a Christmas Tree and a unicorn. I buy the costumes especially for parkrun.
Now and again I convince my husband to volunteer. He walked Christmas Day and that was his first (and only). But I’m sure he’ll be back!
The other cool thing is Christmas. In 2018 my family were here and they all came to parkrun. I volunteered in 2018, and then walked in 2019 whilst my husband volunteered. Having parkrun on Christmas Day is awesome!
Coming to parkrun has kept me going with my training for other events because I use it as my speed training.
As you can tell, I love everything about parkrun. Why not give it a try? I’m sure you’ll love it too!
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