My name is Antoinette Jordaan, and I’m the Event Director (ED) at Breede Valley parkrun, in the beautiful town of Worcester, Western Cape.
I moved to Worcester, oooooh what is it? 5 years ago or so? So back in 2015. Yes, sounds about right. I knew nobody here, except for my brother and his family. I work from home, so basically, I see nobody all week long, and then perhaps my family over the weekend. At first it was all good, new house and all that. But after the first few months, I started spiraling into a deep depression.
I just circled down that pit of doom….the less I went anywhere, the less I wanted to go. I didn’t want to see people, I couldn’t handle the world, the noise, any of it. Depression isn’t a logical thing at all. People in depression tell themselves to get over it, then feel terrible because they can’t and then they just proved to themselves how useless they are etc.
At one point, my sister-in-law staged an intervention and basically dragged me by my ear to a therapist.
After a few sessions, the suggestion that was repeated stuck – go out and meet people. Somewhere a nerve ending in my brain connected with a vague memory of a friend of mine telling me to register for parkrun. “It’s a fun thing, Antoinette. And it’s free. Come on, it will be good for you and I will be there”. That’s what she said. I dug around in my mailbox, and low and behold, there’s the registration. 2 years old or something like that. I never did join her.
First I checked to see if Worcester has a parkrun. Nope. Soooooo…what if I started one? Oh my word, can I do that? Do I have what it takes? Really woman. Put on your big girl panties and do something.
I emailed the parkrun email address to find out how to do it, and oh by all the shiny little stars out there, who mails me? BRUCE FORDYCE HIMSELF! That can go to a girls’ head, you know? Did I just fangirl? Oh dash, I did fangirl a bit.
He told me to connect with Debbie Germishuys who was starting parkrun in my valley. I connected to her, and the rest, as they say, is history. I was trained up to be the token girl, and then got promoted to funnel manager and at one point, I even did the timing! Okay back-up timing….lets be honest here.
Every Saturday, even though I loathe getting up early, I would get up and go to parkrun. I would cheer, and scream my lungs out……..we stood in the freezing cold, and in very hot days to make sure that people could come and parkrun. I met so many wonderful folks, and I have managed to build a few strong friendships in the process.
BUT – the real story is this; parkrun dug me out of a very, very deep hole. parkrun brings me the human interaction I so desperately need in my life, and with it, brings a sense of community that I have never experienced before. I believe in parkrun and the good it does in the community. I have seen over and over again, how people connect at parkrun and motivate each other. How it literally carries people like me, who struggle with depression.
The lockdown has brought all my old demons to bear. It has been a real struggle. I’m sure I’m not alone in this, and for those that are struggling – hear me – parkrun is still there for us. Reach out to those that you ran or walked with. If you don’t have their contact details, reach out to your volunteer team. Keep the communications up – and if you can, get up and do a virtual parkrun – and TELL your parkrun team about it. Your volunteer team is still your biggest cheerleader, so tell us and let us cheer you on!
And as always, don’t forget your barcode!!!
Your biggest fan,
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