We love that so many kids participate in parkrun. It turns out, they love participating, too! We’ve interviewed two parkrunners from different areas of the country, and both happen to be the same age. One is a home-grown USA parkrunner who is at the beginning of his parkrun journey, the other a bit more experienced with several overseas parkruns under his elastic waistband (we’re guessing he doesn’t wear a belt while running). Read on to learn more about them.
If you surveyed parkrun US enthusiasts and asked them to name Livonia parkrun’s claim to fame, you might receive two answers. Yes, it was the first event in the US, and that’s probably the most celebrated claim to fame, but there’s also something a bit more squishy that gets people’s attention. Livonia’s course has a shoe-hugging (and stealing) section of thick, goey, oozy mud! Adults and kids alike seem to enjoy this unique feature, contrary to what one might think. Cole Wisniewski, an 11 year old parkrunner in Livonia, is one of the mud fans. We found out about his love for the mud and parkrun in a short interview.
Who brought you to your first parkrun?
Did you run or walk?
I ran, but I went too fast in the beginning so I walked a bit.
Did you meet any other kids?
Yes, people from my cross country team
Did you have fun?
Yes, I did. It was a blast
What was your favorite part?
The woods, because it was the most scenic and the mud was very thick and hard to run through.
What is special about your parkrun?
That the woods get very muddy in the spring
What kinds of things do you notice about the people at parkrun?
That some of them are very fast
Have you done any other parkrun events or races?
I run for St.Fabian Cross Country team and I ran the most recent Brooksie Way 5k
What would you say to someone else around your age to convince them they should come to parkrun?
That it is a fun event, free, and there are nice volunteers
Congratulations, Cole, for recently earning your 10 shirt and thanks for sharing your love of parkrun with us.
A few states away in Boston, MA, another 11 year old parkrunner, Jarlath Meenan, celebrated his 50th parkrun a while ago and is now at 81, making steady progress to 100. Having moved to the US from Ireland, he already had a head start on the milestone before Jamaica Pond parkrun even existed. Now that’s his home event and he has been warmly welcomed by the parkrun community there.
Tell me about your first parkrun.
My Mom and Dad brought me to my first parkrun and I ran it in 36 minutes. They were surprised; they said that 40 minutes should be my target, but I beat that by 4 minutes! That was the Queen’s parkrun in Belfast because back then I was living in Belfast and Queen’s was a quick mile down the road from us. I didn’t meet any other kids but the marshals were very nice to me and cheered me on. I saw some really cute barkrunners but no real wildlife. I wouldn’t say that I had fun running that 5k at 9 in the morning but don’t blame me, I was 6. But since then I have grown to love parkrun and it has become a weekly thing for me to do nowadays.
What is special about your parkrun?
Since moving to the U.S my local parkrun has been Jamaica Pond parkrun in Boston (the best parkrun!) What really stands out to me at parkrun is how hard the volunteers work to get the event started and how good they make you feel when they cheer you on.
Have you volunteered at parkrun?
I have volunteered 11 times. I have done funnel manager, first timers briefing, barcode scanner, time keeper, finish tokens and post event close down.
My favorite thing to do is barcode scanning because you get to meet all the park/bark runners and congratulate them on finishing.
Do you go anywhere special before or after parkrun?
Sometimes we go for coffee at City Feed after parkrun. I have a glass of milk and if Mom’s being nice I get a cookie. They just get disgusting coffee!
Milk and a cookie sounds like a great way to celebrate after parkrun. We’ll have to try that sometime. You know, instead of that disgusting coffee…
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