We hear it all the time: “parkrun is for all abilities and paces.” I’m sure I’ve said it myself at minimum 42 times. But I don’t think I understood what it meant until this past weekend. Let me explain.
I’ve never claimed to be the fastest runner but I have always been able to keep a pace I was happy with. I’ve encouraged people faster than me, slower than me, and at my pace to come to parkrun. I think everyone is better for coming to parkrun and we celebrate all times and paces at parkrun as though you just won Olympic gold!
But then in December I suffered from what I can only characterize as a severe neurological meltdown. I could no longer keep that pace because I couldn’t walk and I couldn’t talk. And I will admit, in the midst of my worst moments, I did think “please don’t make me miss another parkrun,” probably not where my priorities should have been, but that’s where they were.
I left the hospital with my walking still severely compromised on a Friday, which meant I had to use a walker at parkrun the following day. I had also used it at a grocery store, where I kept getting weird looks from people and could feel judgment and it felt a little disarming.
I normally do long runs with these girls, and they’re so supportive even when I can’t walk.
But not at parkrun! I covered my walker in streamers and glitter and I was ready to go! From start to finish everyone at parkrun was so helpful! My friend picked me up so I could get there, then at parkrun everyone wanted to make sure I was ok, and helped me get around since I was still a bit unsteady. They wanted photos with me and my sparkly walker which made me feel like a minor parkrun celebrity. There was no judgment and no looks and I was welcomed back with open arms!
If you wanted to know what 50 dollars worth of glitter looks like, this is it
parkrun is in fact for everyone. In my handicapped state, I was still able to participate as a volunteer, but If I wanted to walk the course that day, the team would have been cheering me on and helping me complete the full 5K with my walker.
All the volunteers cheering on all the runners of all abilities!
If you think you’re not fast enough for parkrun, or you’re differently abled and think you might not be accepted, please come talk to me! parkrun is the best community where all are welcomed!
Love and Gratitude,
Jamaica Pond parkrunner
PS: Just about all my visitors at the hospital were parkrun friends. parkrun is a community that doesn’t just exist on Saturday at 9am. Even though I couldn’t walk or talk, I felt like the luckiest girl to receive so much love from the parkrun community. Even on Christmas, I had about 10 parkrun friends visit me in the hospital. parkrun truly has changed my life in Boston, and I feel indebted to it!
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