Wilf Laidler first gave parkrun a try aged 76 yrs old. He has not stopped since.
Here Wilf tells us why he took up parkrunning and what he’s achieving now.
I had a triple heart bypass in November 2011 and went through the normal rehabilitation and all got back to normal and I was doing fine.
In mid 2016, my son Derek, who is a physiotherapist, said I was moving slowly. I had started to amble rather than walk, like many of us as we get older. He bought me a fitness tracker and advised me how to use it. First of all I aimed at completing 10,000 steps a day. Then I tried to complete them faster and it followed naturally that I started to try jogging. I progressed slowly and steadily.
In October 2016 I took part in my first parkrun at Ganavan Sands, Oban, with my son, daughter in law and grandson in his buggy. As they are both in the medical profession I knew I had plenty of support if needed! It is a hilly course and I was used to jogging on the flat, so it was tough! I finished the 5k in just over 47mins.
Since then I have done over 140 parkruns, mostly at my home parkrun which is the Rising Sun, Wallsend. I’ve also enjoyed parkrunning when I have been on holiday including Clermont parkrun in Florida, Centennial parkrun in Sydney and Western Springs parkrun in Auckland.
I love the fact that parkrun is non judgmental and open to all. I have built up a good circle of friends through it too.
As a result of the current lockdown situation I wondered what I could do to help so I decided to run 80 miles in the 4 weeks leading up to my 80th birthday on the 12th June, raising money for 2 local charities along the way.
I started on May 16th and ran between 3 and 6 miles each day, on my own, around Killingworth where I live. I was surprised and delighted to reach my target of 80 miles a week before my birthday so I just kept going. By June 12th I completed 28 runs, totaling 110 miles.
I received lots of great support from friends, family, local running group and through posting updates on my social media pages.
Prior to my first parkrun (aged 76 yrs) I had not participated in any form of sport. It goes to show that you are never too old to start something new. I’d recommend taking some medical advice before you start and then just build up your fitness slowly and steadily.
I have found parkrun to be a great, cost free and socially inclusive way to get into doing some regular exercise. You participate with all ages all abilities and you never finish last. The exercise has helped improve my overall fitness and physical health. Then the companionship makes it all the more enjoyable and mood boosting.
Once parkrun is back I’m aiming for the big 250 milestone!
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