News - June 10, 2021
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Just one chunk at a time

Helen-Young-3

Helen Young started parkrunning three years ago after looking for local volunteering opportunities. Seeing how friendly and inclusive it was, she eventually took on the 5k course herself, and now she has set off to virtually run the perimeter of Sierra Leone in 5k chunks.

 

My first parkrun was about three years ago. I had been looking for local volunteering opportunities having volunteered at various running and triathlon events in London and parkrun looked like a good opportunity.

 

I was really nervous on arrival as I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to do whatever was required, however, I was met by a wonderfully friendly Run Director and great team of volunteers. I was in charge of an area on the route where the parkrunners take a sharp right turn. They were all so friendly and grateful, even the really speedy ones shouted out their thanks! It was great to be part of such a friendly, inclusive and local event.

 

I volunteered for about 6 parkruns before I laced up my trainers and braved the 5k course. Having volunteered at the event and watched all the parkrunners in action I had realised that it wasn’t about the speed, there were plenty of other people who parkran at my sort of pace.

 

The regular parkrun date provided me with the motivation to keep my running going, which I’d struggled with in the past. I enjoyed starting the weekend with my parkrun and found myself getting impatient for the results to arrive on my phone. It was lovely to see the improvements as my fitness progressed.

 

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Through parkrun I came across The Danson Runners who are a very inclusive and supportive run club.

 

The Danson Runners meet twice a week in ‘normal’ times and I would try and make both sessions but because of work, I would often only manage one. I put all this training to good use by signing up to some 10ks and half marathons, fundraising along the way.

 

I found these races hard and would often find myself crying with elation as I finished, barely believing that I had achieved the distance. Although I’ll never be the fastest, I have learnt that running and taking part in a race is my personal battle and I shouldn’t compare myself to others.

 

Over lockdown I was able to run regularly, with my run club setting various virtual challenges to keep us all motivated and I have been (not)parkrunning too, but I needed a new crazy fundraising challenge (I’ve done a few) to get my teeth into!

 

There is a charity close to my heart that supports children’s education in Sierra Leone, for whom I worked in 2016.  The charity is celebrating its 5th birthday so I wanted my challenge to be a good one and be able to raise as much money as possible to help support it.

 

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I started to run the equivalent of the 1495km perimeter of Sierra Leone on August 1st. I am running it in 5k chunks and am managing achieve 3 to 5 of these chunks per week. I have been inviting people to run a 5k section if they want to, for a donation, or to sponsor me to run a 5k chunk!

 

Once I’d started the challenge it dawned on me just what a REALLY long way it is and what a big challenge I’d taken on! After a month of running my 5k chunks, I hit a bit of a low point, but ultimately, it’s just a case of taking it one chunk at a time. I really have no idea when I’ll finish!

 

I’m really looking forward to parkrun returning, when possible, and parkrunning with familiar faces again! The parkruns will be the easiest 5k chunks of my challenge!

 

Helen Young

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