My name is Linda Walker, I am 55 years old, and three years ago I was involved in the launch of Lancaster parkrun. Back then I thought that being a volunteer was about as near as I was ever going to get to running.
I had gone along to a couple of the meetings and put myself forward to be a regular volunteer. As a ‘non-runner’ this seemed a really good idea. My son, who has now run more than 250 parkruns, had always raved about them.
At school I absolutely hated sports and I remember having to run the 1500 metres in PE and being told we had to run it in under 15 minutes otherwise we’d be made to run it again. I managed to scrape in around the 15 minute mark – just a fraction under.
In my early twenties I thought I’d give jogging a try but only managed to run to the bottom of the road – about 100 metres – then I gave up.
So three years ago – as a 52 year old – I was at the very first Lancaster parkrun. My husband, himself a relatively new runner for around a year, ran the course and I cheered him on.
A week later I decided to join a little running group in Morecambe called Plodding Along. There were about half a dozen runners and I was made to feel really welcome. I was absolutely over the moon when I managed to run a whole kilometre without stopping. I got such a buzz from it. The next week I was back at the group and managed to run a bit further. I told my husband that when I could run 5k then I would maybe consider running parkrun. On 30 January 2016 my husband volunteered as the Tail Runner (now called Tail Walker). He told me that if I wanted to give parkrun a try then he’d be right behind me – literally!
I was a nervous wreck on the start line, but all the volunteers were amazing and I ran round in just under 41 minutes. At that point I guess I began my journey of my love for running. I have now run more than 100 parkruns – not bad for a ‘non-runner’. Recently I got my fastest ever time at Fleetwood parkrun of 32 minutes.
In 2018 I ran two half marathons. My first one was in London which was the London Landmarks Half Marathon, and my second one was the Manchester Half Marathon. I ran Manchester 10 minutes faster than London. I have run lots of 10k races and I am gradually getting faster and faster. I feel fitter and have lost a stone in weight. I’ve never been overweight, but running has toned me up. I feel fantastic and spend weekends away which have a running event tagged into them.
I can’t believe that a year ago I even joined the Lancaster and Morecambe Athletics Club and train once a week with them. At present I run about 15 miles a week. I owe so much to parkrun.
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