With the Tokyo Olympics just around the corner, we revisit Sarah Barnes’ story of discovering parkrun in the UK and how that guided her to bring parkrun to her new home at Miyazaki.
I remember my mum telling me about parkrun back in December 2014; she’d heard about it on Radio 4. Neither of us were keen runners, but we decided we’d go together to support each other and give it a try!
I was so proud of both of us for finishing all 5km on our first attempt. I’d always thought that I didn’t have the build to be “a runner”, but I’d proven myself wrong that day.
Over the weeks, we met people from our village who we’d not spoken to in a long time, friends from my primary school days and many new friendly faces. My times got a little faster and I felt a little more confident in myself every week. I got to spend quality time with my parents and my dog. I actually began to enjoy running, something I could never have imagined before starting this journey!
I continued parkrun when I moved for university, much to the amazement of my friends who much preferred their Saturday morning lie-ins! After I graduated, I made the big decision to move to Japan to teach English. I was instantly saddened to hear that Japan did not yet have parkrun, and that I’d now be losing the battle to reach 100 parkruns before my parents did!
In February 2019, I heard the announcement that parkrun was coming to Japan! I booked my flights to Tokyo straight away and flew from sunny Miyazaki to Tokyo to participate in the first ever parkrun event in Japan!
With the cherry blossoms cheering me on, I finished my first parkrun in over 9 months and was filled with new determination. I wanted to bring parkrun to my new city, Miyazaki. Miyazaki is located in the south-east of Kyushu, Japan’s third-largest island. It’s far away from the bright lights and busy streets of Tokyo. That’s not to say it isn’t amazing in its own rights. Amazing food, gorgeous beaches and the kindest people you’ll ever meet, Miyazaki is without a doubt my favourite place in Japan.
I wanted to bring the kind people of Miyazaki the gift of parkrun, in the hopes that it would change their lives as much as it did mine.
Thankfully, with the help of the amazing team at parkrun, my hopes came true as Miyazaki held its inaugural event on the 14th September 2019.
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