News - 15th November 2022

30,000 reasons to get out of bed


Jan Sherley has 30,000 examples of why she gets out of bed on a Saturday morning.


As sure as the chance of the bridge rising on a high tide, the amateur photographer is just as guaranteed to be somewhere along the Whangarei parkrun course with her camera in hand.


Jan’s first parkrun was on March 26, 2016, when she first took photos at Whangarei.


The following six weeks she volunteered as a time keeper, but the remaining 249 events have been behind the lens. Jan has never had her barcode scanned, her entire parkrun experience has been in the hi-vis.




“Not being able to run or walk too far, volunteering allows me be part of the Saturday parkrun family and watch the progress of many through the weeks and years.


“I saw the benefits of it being free. I went down once or twice and my partner, Ron, suggested I bring the camera down to see what photos I got.


“Ever since then I’ve been out of bed early on a Saturday morning and I have more than 30,000 photos.”




Jan says she likes to people-watch, catching people unawares.


“I look at people talking and expressing with their hands.


“I have got to know the running styles of many just by the sound of their footfalls, which at times raises a laugh.




“It’s always interesting going through the photos and I’m mindful that some I take may not be the best angle for that individual and if I wouldn’t like it then I won’t publish it.


“One runner who doesn’t like photos taken if having a bad day always says “birds” so I know to put a bird picture in for her. Watching the antics and acrobatic prowess of some is good for a smile.


“Being in the right place at the right time can be a bonus. I took a photo recently of one of our parkrunners that had a hard run to break a PB. I love looking at the flying feet of some who are so far off the pavement and others flat-footed and plodding.




“There are smiling faces in pushchairs, dogs on leads panting frantically hoping for the water stop, parents encouraging their children; it is all part of being in that ‘family’.


“It’s about not taking it too seriously and being able to have a great laugh, it doesn’t feel like 250 Saturdays at all.


“If I wasn’t at parkrun I’d be in the garden but with Ron as Event Director I’m sure he would find some task for me!”




Jan’s tips for parkrun photographers:


“Don’t worry about equipment. Some people get hung up about cameras not being good enough, or photos not coming out right but the more you practice the better they get.


“Don’t rush it. Look at the background and where you’re taking the photos – try not to get right in the face of runners.”




“Other things to consider are if someone makes it clear they don’t want their photo taken to abide by that wish. Some people will call out, but another accepted signal in parkrun is to cross your arms. This makes it easy to delete before uploading photos.”


After parkrun, Jan will go home and transfer her photos to her computer. She says she never Photoshop but she will crop some images to make them look better, before uploading them to the Whangarei parkrun page.




“I’ve never had anything go terribly wrong, I stepped backwards into dog poo once, and a bird chased me when I got too close to its nesting site by one of the wharves.”


Jan has got to know local parkrunners and has met visitors who have told her it was the photos from the parkrun that spurred them on to visit.


“Being photographer is not a scary thing!”


Alison King

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