Broken Hill Racecourse parkrun in outback Australia is more than 300 kilometres from its closest parkrun. Maria Kelly, who has volunteered as a course marshal 58 times, explains why spending her Saturday mornings cheering parkrunners through the desert, while being surrounded by native wildlife is a highlight of her week.
I’m a 54-year-old woman and I could happily just stay in my pyjamas every Saturday morning. But if I did, I would not be fit and healthy and I would not be enjoying the outside world. Getting up and going to parkrun gets me up out of bed and moving.
Our parkrun is in the Australian outback, and what I love about our course is that every week it’s slightly different. We could have flooding rains or we could have searing heat. My favourite volunteer role is course marshalling because it’s quiet and peaceful, there are birds, and sometimes you see native wildlife. For me, it’s all about the serenity!
Part of the volunteering joy that I get is being able to support and encourage other people, and in turn get that back for myself. There’s a two-way sharing of joy, and I believe what you give comes back to you. Sometimes they’re perfect strangers and you only have two seconds with them, but that two seconds is enough to have a happy moment and bring some joy to their day.
We’re in a very remote community and the nearest parkrun to us is 300 kilometres away. One of the challenges of being in a remote community is that often there’s not much for people to actually do to bring them together. parkrun is an alternative form of community where you can come together for social as well as health reasons, which is really good for us.
There are people I’ve gotten to know through parkrun who I had met previously but hadn’t gotten to know them, but now we have something in common. parkrun is a way to broaden your social circle and get to know different people from different walks of life, and it provides our community with a way of being connected to the outside world.
I would happily just walk out into the desert and direct people at parkrun every week. It’s my happy place.
Click the image below to watch a short film about Maria and Broken Hill Racecourse parkrun.
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