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News - 3rd April 2019

Tackling loneliness with parkrun

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In 2017, then 83-year-old Margaret Smith from Brueton parkrun became the oldest woman in parkrun history to join the 250 Club. Two years on, she encourages other older people to join the parkrun family to tackle loneliness.

 

I have always been very sporty and active. In my younger days (they’re not that long ago!) I was a keen cyclist and cycled in time trials at all distances, as well as racing on the track. When my husband and I retired, we went on a three-and-a-half month cycling tour of New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore.

 

After he sadly passed away having battled cancer, my son Peter, who runs at Bushy Park and Richmond parkruns, took me along with him when I was visiting him in London… and I absolutely loved it.

 

When I returned home, I found my nearest parkrun in Memorial Park in Coventry, and went along. After completing it four times, my son Peter sent me a text message telling me that parkrun was coming to Solihull, just two miles from my home.

 

Since Brueton parkrun started, it would be fair to say that I caught the parkrun bug, because I went on to become the oldest female parkrunner in the world to complete 250 parkruns!

 

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Now I have completed 304 parkruns, several half marathons, and four marathons, including the London Marathon which I ran in my husband’s memory, raising more than £3,000 for charity.

 

I forgot to mention one other very important fact for me, and that is around 200 of my parkruns have been completed with my loyal companion, my dog Luna.

 

She is husky-labrador cross and might even love parkrun more than I do! Luna is a favourite amongst all the other Brueton parkrunners.

 

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I think what GPs are doing, prescribing parkrun to patients via the #parkrunPractice initiative is fantastic – particularly for older patients. Being active, whether walking or jogging is so important. Every day I walk at least seven miles with my husky-labrador cross, and on Sundays this is more like nine miles.

 

But as well as that, encouraging older people to get outside in their local community can help cut the loneliness that older age can bring. I am now 85 years old and the parkrun family are fantastic, so caring and encouraging.

 

I look forward so very much to Saturdays, whatever the weather, it fills my adrenaline gap!

 

Margaret Smith
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