Mansfield OH parkrun celebrates its second birthday in a couple of weeks. How did this town get to be one of the first lucky US communities with a parkrun? The answer can be found in this wonderful story about a 90-year old who did his first ever parkrun on Christmas Day 2018 on the other side of the globe. Harry Crane is the glue.
Christmas day parkrun at Sandgate parkrun, north of Brisbane, Australia, was a very special one for our family for so many reasons. But before I explain why it is worthwhile going back in time. Back to a time where it began for our family.
At a house in Prospect St in Erskineville, Sydney, an energetic boy named Harry was born in December 1928. That boy would become the wonderful loving father of two girls and two boys, one of which was me.
When Harry met his future wife, she convinced him to stay in Brisbane and raise a family with her. He was especially supportive of his children’s sporting pursuits, even when we kids too easily gave up. Harry was especially supportive of my brother Steve in his love of track and field, and he grew to become a Queensland middle distance champion, competing on the national stage. Good enough, in fact, that he was lured to the United States to become captain of The Ohio State University track team.
During this time Harry was an enthusiastic secretary of the Nundah Athletics Club and also a committee member of the Queensland Amateur Athletics Association. Meanwhile, he encouraged both my sister and me to get involved in track and field, taking us to weekly meets at Lang Park in Brisbane. We unfortunately might not have been quite as enthusiastic as our brother.
All this time, despite being such an advocate for the pursuit of athletic excellence, I don’t think I once saw my dad compete himself. This I always found a little confusing.
Time went on, and our jobs took our family members into more mundane routines and less of the running events that secretly we all loved so much.
Many years later, my wife Suzanne discovered this group she called “parkrun”. She encouraged me to join, despite my significant reservations that it was not a “real” event. How wrong I was. I was quickly hooked! Shortly afterwards I was invited to become a team member at Gungahlin parkrun in Canberra with my wife, taking on Run Director roles and eventually becoming a Co-Event Director.
My brother Steve and my sister-in-law Karen would sometimes travel back from Ohio and knowing their athletic abilities we invited them to join us at our event. And it happened again. Another couple were hooked. So much so that they decided that they had to take this concept back to the town where they lived. And so it was that a couple of years later Mansfield Ohio parkrun was born, the 8th parkrun in the US.
This December, our dad turned 90, and he is still as fit as anyone would want to be at that age. He only retired from a physical outdoor job when he was 85. In celebration of this important milestone for our dad, Suzanne and I travelled back to Brisbane, my brother Steve and sister-in-law Karen, together with their kids and partners and granddaughter returned from the US, as well as our other sisters from various parts of the world.
My wife suggested that we take our dad to the Christmas parkrun at Sandgate, to give back some of what he has given to us kids. It seemed like a perfect way to complete the circle.
So on a stunning sunny day at Sandgate on December 25, 2018, Harry Crane completed his first parkrun with his 2 sons, two daughters-in-law, and 2 grandchildren. Aged 90.
So many parkrunners congratulated him, wanted to meet him, expressed their admiration for him. This made us all so proud of him, and also of what parkrun can give us all. An opportunity to join the community, to participate no matter your age or ability, and to give back to all those you love so much. More proof that parkrun is for everyone from 4 to 90+.
He might be a late starter, but I suspect that this isn’t the last time that he will join us out on the paths. We certainly hope not. We are all so proud of our dad, and so lucky we have parkrun to share that joy with him.
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