It’s well known that parkrun spawns new runners but it’s perhaps less recognised for bringing retired runners back to life.
A case in point is our volunteer hero Theo van der Merwe. Theo has performed volunteer duties an astounding 278 times but perhaps even more amazing is that he only came back to running after a 20-year hiatus (he gave up running due to injury in 1995 after a long career in which he earned his OMTOM Ultra blue number and ran 3 Comrades into the bargain) purely because of parkrun.
He’s the first to tell you that parkrun gave him a new lease of life. Once some relatives had prised him off the couch he started by walking his first parkruns, as so many parkrunners do, until this year, after 230 parkruns at 33 different venues, he not only ran a sub-30 minute PB but he took part in the Two Oceans Half Marathon in an impressive time of 2:42:27.
Theo’s only regret running OMTOM 2019? That he had to break his 128 consecutive parkrun streak to do so!
Theo became a newly minted 70-year old this past Saturday, 27 April, and we’d like to take this opportunity of wishing him a happy birthday and many more years of inspiring parkrun performances.
This heart-warming story just further illustrates how parkrun enriches lives.
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Marie Eyre was born with Spina Bifida, is wheelchair bound and cannot drive. I met her through church and she offered to help when she heard Pongola parkrun was short of volunteers. The first time Marie volunteered, I introduced her to a timekeeper, Andre Steyn, who took her under his wing and quickly taught her perfect…