Brendan Howard went from someone who ‘can’t run’ to someone who has completed more than 120 events at Dundalk parkrun in Ireland, has an impressive PB of 26:55 and has this year earned his volunteer 25 t-shirt.
He explains his thought process that led him to that first event and what parkrun means to him.
It’s exactly three years now since I first went along to Dundalk parkrun. I had seen some publicity material in the local paper when they were celebrating their first anniversary and it got me thinking. In the days before it, I changed my mind many times – I can’t run (no lie there), I had a dodgy knee, I was too old (in my 60s), I will be last etc etc.
Anyway, off I went and I did my first parkwalk. I was struck by the good humor all around, and I enjoyed it. Same again the following Saturday, and on the third week I began to wonder if I could run 100 meters, or from one tree to another, or from one corner to another. It took me almost nine months, but I finally completed my first full 5k running (slowly). I will never forget that feeling of exhilaration.
By now, my wife had joined in, as well as my son and daughter from time to time (indeed my daughter sometimes turns her hand to volunteering as photographer ). I heard people talking about how much fun it was to volunteer, and it’s true – no matter what the role is, and no matter the weather (well, almost).
I know that people go to parkrun for many reasons – speed, fitness, weight loss, stress or just for a chat. Some want to talk and some are happier in their own space. What has really struck me is the friendliness – I have made more friends in parkrun/running circles in three years, than in over 30 years at accountancy.
I used to look forward to a lie in on a Saturday morning – now I want to get up for parkrun – what are you doing to me! I rarely miss a week and I really hope I can continue to do it for many more years.
To misquote the film title – There’s Something About parkrun
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