News - 23rd November 2022

Hip hip hooray!

Sally Warren 4

Sally Warren’s hip operation and the subsequent recovery left her at a very low ebb.


Here she tells us how volunteering at her beloved Burgess parkrun played its part in lifting her spirits.


There was nothing better than the accomplished feeling I used to get by 10am on a Saturday morning, when I’d already finished my 5k, sipped on a well-deserved coffee and caught up with some sweaty, endorphin fuelled friends (or strangers in the queue!). I really thought there was no better way to start a weekend.


After getting used to my local Burgess parkrun, I then also tried other parkruns whenever I was travelling on holiday or to see family and friends. I love the buzz of excitement on a Friday evening, heading to bed, looking forward to the morning adventure of trying a new course, exploring the local area and meeting like-minded people.


Unfortunately, a niggling hip injury began to get worse over lockdown to the point that I struggled to walk further than half an hour without a burning pain. Last September, at the ripe age of 28, I underwent surgery for this, meaning my much-adored weekly tradition suddenly came to a halt.


Sally Warren 1


I was pleased to have had the operation, but six weeks later I found myself terribly low. Previously, I was a very active and independent person, but now I couldn’t get out and see friends. I had to have time off work to recover, and I couldn’t even climb a flight of stairs without a pair of crutches. My independence had been stripped away from me and I felt quite isolated. I especially missed the ‘buzz’ of parkrun and the happiness it brought me each week.


I decided to volunteer to keep myself involved, hoping it would cheer me up, and I wanted to be among the community that had been so good to me. My local parkrun is usually only a 15-minute cycle away, but on my first morning of volunteering, I underestimated the effort it would take with a pair of crutches on public transport! Two buses, a short hobble and just under an hour later, I arrived for the 8:30am volunteers’ huddle at Burgess Park.


The race director was incredibly accommodating. He placed me near the finish line, where I could set up my camping chair, as I couldn’t stand longer than 20 minutes without pain. Then, as I began to hobble towards my marshalling point, the rain came lashing down. I sat down in my marshal spot and as the race went on, my icy cold hands became numb from holding the umbrella up. I was soaked through.


Sally Warren 2


As I watched the great herd of parkrunners hurtle towards me, with their headphones in, smart watches beeping and barcodes bobbing about on their wrists, I began to realise how happy this sight made me and that being there, on this cold wet morning, was all worth it.


Marshalling gives you a great advantage in that you get to watch and observe the event close up. It was fascinating to see this wonderful mix of ages, heights, running styles and paces, all out there on a Saturday  morning.


I reflected on the fact that parkrun is such an inclusive and accessible event for the local community. I cheered, clapped, pointed people in the right direction and gave everyone a well-deserved smile. For a moment I thought, “This is more fun than running it!”


As the weeks went on, I continued to volunteer every Saturday morning. As I healed and grew stronger, I was then able to stand for the whole duration.


As a physiotherapist in the NHS, it is my duty and passion to advocate for the best conditions to maximise my patients’ health and well-being. There is a lot to learn from events like parkrun. We should take pride in our volunteering as we play our part in motivating and inspiring people as they run, improving the health and welfare of our community. There is great value in getting behind the positive spirit of parkrun and bringing joy to the event. I learnt that it is even possible to play a part when injured and taking time off running, crutch bound sitting on a camping chair in the pouring rain!


Recently, I finally made the return to parkrun after completing Couch-to-5K and seven months of disciplined rehabilitation.


It was a perfect sunny day and lots of my friends turned out to support and run with me. I was given a shout out at the start and cheered at the finish. I beamed with joy as I celebrated with my friends. It was such a good morning and I was back!


Sally Warren 3


And the joy of that morning wouldn’t be possible without our parkrun volunteers. I am so grateful for every one of you. Thank you!


Sally Warren

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