A chance conversation with a parkrunner colleague led to Imran Khan, who is visually impaired, getting the help he needed to start his parkrun journey.
Having just celebrated his one year parkrun birthday, he tells us his story.
It was at the beginning of 2019, during a conversation with work colleagues, the fact that I had signed up for parkrun a few years ago but not done any running slipped out.
Little did I know that one of them was a parkrun volunteer who had seen other people with visual impairments running with guide runners.
After her assistance to get my barcode printed, and encouragement to email my local parkrun to find some guide runners, my parkrun journey was underway on 23 February 2019.
And on 22 February me and my guide runners are in Catford celebrating one year of parkrunning together.
I was really nervous at my first parkrun, 5km was a long distance for me, having not done any running since school.
However, my nervousness quickly turned into an excitement of the challenge. Nathalie (my first guide runner) was brilliant, I got a really warm welcome at the start and lots of encouragement along the way from the friendliest volunteers and other parkrunners. My first recorded time was 44:04.
The inclusive atmosphere and my recorded time and other stats, made me want to go back for another parkrun. A month later I ran with Carly, another enthusiastic and friendly person who volunteered to guide run. I improved on my first run by 15 seconds.
The one parkrun a month continued with Nathalie and Carly for the next few months and I got my time to under 39 minutes.
This made me want to do more running and try different parkruns in London, for which I needed more guide runners.
I contacted Harriet and Emma who were guide runners registered on ‘Run Together’. With now four guide runners, I’m able to do 3 or 4 parkruns a month. I have completed 28 parkruns and my time is now 37:21.
Nathalie, Carly, Harriet and Emma all have their own reasons for volunteering to guide run, and they are fantastic. They have become really good friends along the way and my parkruns are a really enjoyable experience.
My ambitions for this year are to do the 5km at a steady running speed, without any walking, get my time under 35 minutes, reach 50 parkruns, and inspire more people to take up parkrunning and guide running.
My advice is to take that first step, sign up for parkrun, you’ll get fit and healthy in the most inclusive environment among people of all abilities – you won’t regret it.
Take that first step, the rest, as they say is history.
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