News - 10th March 2021

Community spirit

Penelope Harrall 5

Penelope Harrall’s first parkrun was on International Women’s Day in March 2020. Now she is helping to motivate and support other women on their running journeys.


I started the Couch to 5K programme on 1st January 2020 after a while of not doing anything and my fitness levels had really dropped. In addition to joining my local gym I wanted to have a go at running, something I had only ever tried before at school.


Towards the end of the C25k programme my friend, Leanne, asked if I wanted to join her for the local parkrun, I anxiously said yes as I hadn’t actually ran a 5k yet.


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The day I went along to parkrun for the first time happened to be International Women’s Day. It was great to see so many women there of all different speeds and fitness levels, it really helped me feel more at ease and that it was something I could do. Straightaway I could tell that parkrun was a community rather than just individuals racing against each other.


I am going to be completely honest, my first parkrun was tough! I did struggle but the support from everyone at the event, including parkrunners and volunteers, helped me make it to the end and it felt great.


Since the pandemic hit I have missed parkrun hugely, even though I only got to try it a few times. It is definitely one of the most welcoming and inclusive events I have ever taken part in and I am so excited for when it can start back up again.


To anyone thinking about trying parkrun, whether you want to walk, jog, run or sprint, when it reopens I would say, “Just do it!” There are so many kind and helpful people taking part you will never feel alone.


Since completing my first 5K at parkrun on International Women’s Day, I have completed my first 10K, raising money for a mental illness charity and I am currently training to take part in The London Landmarks Half Marathon this summer.


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I have also, along with my run partner Leanne, set up a social running group for women of all paces, abilities and goals to keep us all motivated through the pandemic and come together and support each other through our running journeys.


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Every Sunday we hold a virtual run day where people can send in their runs and photos over social media for us all to celebrate and share. Hopefully, when we can, this Sunday virtual event will be able to happen for real, in person, bringing the whole community together.


Penelope Harrall

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