Carl Barnes found parkrun as he was recovering from alcohol addiction. The sense of achievement inspired him to keep going, and inspire his friends and family along the way.
Here he takes us on his parkrun journey.
I spent the first half of 2018 recovering from alcohol addiction and its accompanying health issues.
I’d heard about parkrun from a friend, she suggested I should try it out and that I might meet some new people.
My first parkrun in July 2018 was my first outside running experience since school. I was a bit apprehensive for my first one, I thought everyone else would belong there, and I’d never been to anything organised before. Plus, I was still discovering how fit I could get after my health issues, and I kept worrying about the volunteers having to call the paramedics for me!
As it turned out I had nothing to worry about. I loved it.
The atmosphere was great and it was amazing seeing your name next to a recorded time. It gave me such a sense of achievement after all I’d been through.
parkrun has led me to a better, healthier lifestyle. I joined my local running club, and I’ve even gone on to complete marathons.
One of my stand out moments is definitely meeting my girlfriend Stacey at the finish of Widnes parkrun back in 2019! We’ve been together nearly 2 years now – a parkrun romance as our friends have commented.
I’ve also enjoyed volunteering as a pacer to help people get their PBs and I loved visiting Fountains Abbey parkrun, plus convincing friends and family to do their first parkrun is also a great feeling. Here’s me with my Dad and best friends at their first parkrun.
For anyone considering their first parkrun, and possibly feeling a bit nervous, I’d say there’s absolutely nothing to worry about.
The people there will encourage you, all the briefings are nice and clear, the atmosphere is really supportive at every one I’ve ever visited, and don’t compare yourself to others!
We all take something different from parkrun, we all participate for different reasons and in different ways. You set your own benchmark. You’ll make friends and great memories, and you’ll get fitter!
I’m now an avid parkrunner, and I run for my mental as well as physical health. I love parkrun and all it can give you and I hope my story helps others.
I’m looking forward to many more races and lots more parkrun tourism in the future hopefully. I’d also like to volunteer more and plan to get involved as a Run Director at some point! I’ll also keep encouraging people to take up running for their mental and physical health, and parkruns are a great facilitator for this.
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