Paul Levett and his wider family all enjoy parkrunning. Here he tells us what it is that the different generations in his family enjoy about their regular Saturday morning outings.
My first parkrun was in February 2010 at Albert parkrun in Middlesbrough. It was shortly after this that I introduced my sister, Jennie to parkrun. She also fell in love with it and discovered her local parkrun at Cheadle Hulme which she’s been attending regularly ever since, as well as getting the rest of her family involved.
After my father died in 2017, I encouraged my mum, Sheila, at the age of 71 to start running as a way to get out and meet more people. She quickly became a regular parkrunner and also joined a local running club. Mum and I are now regulars at Stewart parkrun in Middlesborough.
My sister and I encourage any family or friends who come to stay to try parkrunning or volunteering with us and so it has grown into an extended family and friends affair!
If we go on holiday and are able to find a parkrun nearby we’ll definitely make sure we get there for Saturday morning’s event.
We all get different things from our parkrunning and volunteering. I love that wherever you go, whichever parkrun you choose, you know that you will always be welcomed. In the early days I used to like aiming for a faster time and a new PB. I now enjoy meeting with other people and chatting, whilst getting my weekly parkrun fix.
My sister, Jennie, loves pushing herself to achieve new goals, and the feeling she gets when she achieves a new PB. parkrun helps her to keep up her fitness and gives her a real sense of community.
My nephew, Henry, aged 17, likes trying to get faster and aiming to beat his PB. It is good cross-country practice for him as it’s often muddy. He likes using parkrun as a benchmark for his fitness.
Mum enjoys seeing people she knows and she’s always pleasantly surprised that she finishes in the top half. Secretly, she’s very competitive and aims for the age graded top spot! Mum has found a great sense of community in parkrun especially after Dad died, she only wishes she’d started sooner, as Dad would have been so proud of what she has achieved.
parkrun gets us all up on a Saturday morning and gives the day a focus. Even if you don’t have many other plans for the day you know that if you’ve done a parkrun you’ve achieved something.
We all enjoy watching other people who may be new to running turn up at parkrun, not really knowing what to expect, but then the sense of achievement that they clearly feel at the end is so inspiring.
It’s also nice to see parkrun from the other side by volunteering. You really feel that you’re doing something worthwhile when you volunteer. It’s lovely watching people putting in 100% effort and having a great time whilst keeping fit. Volunteering at junior parkrun is especially rewarding seeing the youngest children just starting out on their parkrun journey.
parkrun has been responsible for a couple of recent family achievements and events for us. In February this year, three generations of our family achieved the top three age graded performances at Fletcher Moss parkrun and then, we celebrated Jennie’s 50th birthday with a weekend away, all taking part in the Monsal Trail parkrun near Bakewell.
For me, the older I have got, running has become less about PBs and more about enjoyment and keeping fit. Having said that there are plenty of statistics available from parkrun to set your own personal target whether that’s time, position, age category position, or age graded performance. I often aim for something a little more obscure like being the first ‘Paul,’ which is harder than you’d imagine!
I’m now closing in on the 250 milestone club and will hopefully get there this year. The rest of the family will be right there with me, chasing their own milestones, age gradings or times or simply enjoying the comradery and chat on a Saturday morning.
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Fiona Dunbar’s family have all benefitted from regular parkrunning and volunteering after overcoming some huge obstacles in recent years. Our parkrun journey started in a very low key way back in 2015. We went to spectate at a local event in Alice Holt Forest to cheer on a family friend who was taking part….