This week we have some real talk from Tracy Larocque, ED at Frederic Back in Montreal, Canada.
In a time with smartphone addiction and the higher stress and anxiety that comes with it parkrun is needed now more than ever! It’s no joke!
The flood of information we receive daily from many different social media platforms crowds our brains and overloads our senses. The latest tragedy, political drama or personal rant pops up on our screen at a breakneck pace. We can’t seem to sit down to eat a meal or watch a half hour long tv sitcom without picking up to see if we missed a text or the latest Instagram story.
FOMO is real and it’s not doing us any good. I know I’m not the only one in bed scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed feeling like I should keep up with as many of my 668 friends as is possible before going to sleep. Even if I decide to only check out the first 25, there’s still Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Emails, my phone’s News section conveniently a swipe away too. It’s exhausting, overwhelming and it keeps us from sleep and exercise.
Now wait! I really didn’t mean to depress you! The cool thing is we’re not unaware. Most of us know very well what ails us and we’re doing something about it! We’re using social media to connect, to find opportunities to get outside, to find healthy recipes, to make new friends, to share good things with each other and find our motivation so to speak.
It’s how many of you found parkrun, right?. Maybe like me you saw a friend in a different country going out every Saturday morning to exercise with friends and then have a refreshing drink and face-to-face conversation after. And then you thought to yourself, hey, that looks like some great fun. And really, it’s free?
You showed up the next Saturday and were met with smiling faces, friendly volunteers, and you walked, jogged or ran around a 5k course. Some of you made it, some of you maybe decided it was a bit far for your first time but that you’d come back and give it a try again next week. But before you went home you decided to stay a minute to thank a volunteer.
You were reminded again that the group welcomes you to stay for some social connection too, so you did. Maybe someone offered you a home-made muffin or bought you a tea. And then you remembered that during the briefing you found out a family from Australia (parkrun tourists) turned up to run their first international parkrun. Maybe they were chatting with the person who volunteered as a Marshal this day. You were curious about all of them and joined the banter.
The next thing you know it’s a few years later, you’ve made several friends you now connect with regularly (some here at home and quite a few who welcome you to stay at their place if you every get to their neck of the woods; maybe in England, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the USA, France or Italy, just to name a few). You smile big looking at one of their parkrun posts and feel special because another one of them added you to the group message he sends out every Saturday about his parkrun adventures.
Maybe you’re reading it as you put on your bright yellow volunteer vest. It’s your 25thtime volunteering at parkrun now and you just requested your free performance t-shirt from parkrun global. You’re excited too because you love cupcakes and your best friend at parkrun baked some to celebrate your accomplishment.
Your smartphone is in your pocket now. You are happy. You feel blessed. You can complete the 5k in 35 minutes maybe (still jogging and walking because that’s how you roll). But today you’re the tailwalker and you are very stoked to do it!
Your 80 year old mom is walking it with you for the 3rd time and it brings you utter joy to see her face light up. Now it’s post parkrun and you’re still chatting with the first-timer who found out about parkrun from a friend. He rarely jogs but was pleasantly surprised with his result and tells you it was because one of the regulars chatted with him at the start line and decided to support and pace him through.
You are not surprised. You know this very special atmosphere well and you are proud to be a part of it. You are home now; mom has been dropped off and you are about to slip into a warm bath. After all, it’s winter in Canada. Your smartphone dings and it startles you; you haven’t looked at it in the last 4 hours.
You go grab it from your pocket to see if it’s anything important. It’s your parkrun results email. You were having too much fun at parkrun lately that you weren’t paying attention to the details. It turns out next week is your 50thparkrun; a milestone run!
Before you can get out a little gasp of excitement a picture text pops up. It’s next week’s Run Director showing you that the red 50th cape the Event Director made with love for this very cool event is ironed and ready for your special day. And you thought today was already amazing! And as you slip into that warm bath a warm thought overcomes you.
Yup, that’s what parkrun is. People caring for people caring for people; a volunteer-run gift! There’s just nothing like it and you can’t wait for next Saturday!
Frederic Back parkrun Event Director
We want you to meet some of the people running parkrun here in the Nordics. First up, Axel Walø from Tøyen parkrun in Oslo. Axel has run 71 of the 73 Tøyen parkruns to date, including 11 times as the Tail Walker. A dedicated parkrunner! How did you first hear about parkrun? Leste på…
Last week I was over in the UK taking part in a ‘parkrun Global’ Operations meeting. They collectively make sure that everything works properly on a Saturday morning around the world. It’s been a chance to see how the decisions for parkrun events get made, and have the opportunity to also contribute to this process,…