Ramona Joy Mulligan has just completed her 100th 5k in 100 days. Here she tells us why she took on this challenge and what it means to her.
I have been parkrunning ever since I joined the inaugural Cuerden Valley parkrun event in August 2013. I have completed 214 parkruns, with 183 of those at my home parkrun and volunteered 37 times.
It is the social aspect of parkrun that I love the most. I usually have a coffee and a chat with my friends after crossing the finish line. Every parkrun is special and feels like a huge celebration. There is always something to celebrate, a milestone run or a birthday and I just love all the high fives.
When I parkrun I am always at the back, but get lots of support from everyone. We all support one another. At Cuerden Valley we have an assortment of cowbells on the last corner, Cowbell Corner, where we ring each other in. This is one of my favourite places to Marshal!
Over the past six years, I have found parkrunning has helped me with both my mental health, as well as physical fitness and wellbeing.
I sadly lost my Mother at the end of August 2019 and suffered from grief, anxiety, daily panic attacks and post-traumatic stress. After returning from four weeks bereavement leave, I got stuck into work which helped, but I also got an enormous boost from taking part in the ‘Run Everyday in January 2020’ and from my parkrun family. I found having a chat with parkrun friends over a coffee on Saturday mornings and sharing the experience of losing my Mother invaluable.
When the pandemic struck I started to work from home a week before lockdown, as having Type 1 diabetes put me on the ‘at risk’ list. I was taking daily walks with my husband Kirk and our dog Alfie, but I wasn’t running. We are very fortunate, as we have the beautiful Cuerden Valley park on our doorstep.
One morning my work manager challenged me to do some sort of exercise to represent each letter of my name (star jumps, push ups, lunges, etc). I took her up this challenge and ran to the park with my dog, Alfie. We had so much fun running and exercising at the park, that I decided to keep it up as part of my daily exercise! I started running 2K, then increased the distance to at least a 5K run every day, keeping my social media channels updated with our daily runs.
After three weeks of working from home, I was placed on furlough. I decided to put all of my energy into running. I found that the daily run was really helping my mental health, physical fitness and management of my Type 1 diabetes. My friends, through my social media updates, were great at encouraging me to keep going. This was the beginning of an amazing journey which began as a personal challenge to run 50 x 5k in 50 days.
Alfie and I headed for Cuerden Valley park each day, aiming for the lake as this is my favourite place and we would run there. The park is a very special place and full of great memories for me.
When Alfie and I reached our 50 day milestone and had achieved at least a 5k run every day I decided I needed to do something positive with all this effort! I set up a fundraising page with the revised goal of running 100 x 5k in 100 days, in support of those facing homelessness during the pandemic.
I was also able to incorporate my running into some charity orientated challenges set up by my run club The Red Rose Runners. In our combined efforts over the lockdown period we helped support local food banks, a local cat sanctuary and a cancer ward at our local children’s hospital.
There is no doubt that running everyday is tiring. The great thing about my challenge was that I could somewhat choose when in the day I did each run, I didn’t have to get to the start line at 9am! Once I was working again, I tended to run in the evening. The start of each run was always a bit tough, but once I reached the lake in the park, I would always feel a sense of renewal. I love the park’s undulating trails and the towering trees. Several times I came across one of my running friends and we’d stop to chat at a social distance and grab a selfie!
It was an absolute joy to achieve my 100th run in 100 days with many of my parkrun friends present to cheer me on. It was a wonderful journey and I’m going to keep going! I am doing it for me and to raise awareness of the mental health charity I support and the Run Everyday community who helped me so much when I most needed it. At time of writing I have just completed my 111th consecutive 5k run and I’ve signed up to a ’50 miles in a week’ virtual challenge with my run club.
I have this favourite quote that has helped me over time: “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you must keep moving forward.” Martin Luther King Jr.
I will certainly keep moving forward and when parkrun is back in action I hope to achieve my goal of 250 parkruns, at least 50 volunteers and visit some new parkrun events whenever I am travelling. Meantime, I am very happy keeping active and enjoying Cuerden Valley park.
Ramona Joy Mulligan
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