This is Katerina Bragin and her six children at Maidstone parkrun. We asked Katerina to explain the impact that both running and volunteering at parkrun has had on her family, and to share her advice on fitting parkrun into busy family life.
I recently reached a special milestone – 20 years since I moved from Moscow to London for a short-term job that would help me to complete my PhD. As it turns out, it wasn’t such a short-term move, as I met my now-husband Greg, got married, and in 2001 baby Alex was born.
Back then I didn’t expect that I would still be having babies 14 years later, but that’s exactly what happened. James, our sixth child, was born on our weeding anniversary in 2015, closing that ‘Circle of Life’.
I first heard about parkrun at a school assembly where a fellow mum suggested my kids and I should try parkrun, and by the following Saturday we were all hooked. Before parkrun I had never run further then 3k, and that was in school, so I liked the challenge even before I tried it. When we came for the first time to our local Maidstone parkrun we were made to feel very welcome and I saw lots of familiar faces. Running with lots of people was not something I have experienced before and for me it was love at first sight.
With such a big household I am quite good at time management (I have to be!) so Saturday morning is scheduled down to the minute. I am so grateful to have such a supportive husband – he knows how important parkrun is to me and helps me with breakfast and drives kids to their clubs while I am out running. Where there is a will there is a way – it’s not easy to orginise them all but its possible, and my tip is always to get your running gear out the night before!
I really enjoyed volunteering with my children when I was pregnant and this is something that is very important to us. My husband is a former marathon runner who volunteers at parkrun as well as cross-country races. We believe in giving back to the community, and we are very proud of our oldest son Alex (who is Autistic - thanks Maidstone parkrun for supporting him!) who has been volunteering at parkrun every Saturday since September and will be doing so for the whole six months of his Duke of Edinburgh Award.
I still remember the day when our family all went to parkrun for our first time, and there is no doubt that parkrun has played a big part in encouraging my children to be physically active. Two of my children, Maria and Maxim are cross-country runners, eight-year-old Christina recently took part in a local running competition, and four-year-old Andrey tells all his friends at pre-school that he wants to be a runner when he grows up!
Personally, I like being active and feeling strong. I am quite fit for my age (age is just a number ladies!) and recently went to Paris on a girls weekend where we walked for 15 miles each day and I wasn’t even tired! I am sure parkrun has something to do with it as my stamina is now better, and with every parkrun I am getting fitter.
I have encouraged quite a few women (and their husbands!) to try parkrun and several now come every week. Some of these are local, and some are back in Moscow, which also has parkrun.
People say “The Best Things In Life Are Free” and parkrun proves it. You don’t have to run fast, in fact you don’t even have to run at all (just walk it if you prefer) – all you need is to try parkrun once and see where it takes you. Who knows, it might change not just your Saturday morning but your life too!
It only took me three years to get a new parkrun PB (I guess having baby number six has slowed things down!) but at last I did it. I remember very well my other milestones – trying to run without stopping to walk, ignoring that stitch and heavy legs, and finishing strongly.
Raising six children is not easy and it’s hard to organise and leave them all on Saturday morning but I will keep parkrunning as it gives me energy, a great feeling of well-being, it is an excellent exercise opportunity. Most importantly, I love running among such a great bunch of friends. Looking forward to my next PB!
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