I recently achieved a major milestone at parkrun, which was running my 100th event. This milestone is celebrated and acknowledged at parkrun when a parkrunner has achieved a 100 parkruns in total at any parkrun globally. I will also get to redeem a free 100 parkrun shirt soon to go with my 50 milestone shirt!
If you haven’t heard of parkrun, it is a free event held each week at set 5km courses. Participants are able to run, jog or walk the course at their own pace and ability. It’s not a race but it is timed so you can track your own progress and set yourself your own personal challenges. The community spirit at parkun is amazing and is what has kept me going back each week. To have the support of fellow parkrunners and get encouragement when you think are done but only to find more energy from gentle encouragement is incredible. I also love being able to give back now and encourage other parkrunners to push that little bit more towards the end.
I first started parkrun at Gungahlin in November 2013 on this courses 4th ever run. I didn’t go back until the first event in 2014 and from there only managed 10 runs in that year stopping in June. It was pretty much a year on that I returned in June 2015 and managed to complete 18 events. 2016 was a much better year with 26 events completed and in 2017 improved that by 7 to complete 33. In 2018 to date I have completed 12 rounding up the 100.
parkrun has been great for my fitness and started me on a great running adventure. The thing that initially appealed to me with parkrun was the fact it was on the same time every week at the same location. I would never have gone down to Yerrabi and just started running. I was unfit and would have felt odd just starting to try and run around the park by myself.
Among the crowd I was able to hide and start when the starter sent us on our way. I was able to start off at my own pace just walking with the dogs. My first event took me 43 minutes and 28 seconds. Not long after I started to try intervals, run for a short bit and walk for a long bit. I soon had to ditch the dogs because their passion for getting fit and weight loss was not as great as mine.
After going more consistently from mid 2015 and being committed my times quickly came down to where in October 2015 I went sub 30 minutes for the first time. This is what I tell everyone, just go every week and do what you can and the results will come! It took a couple of months to run the whole 5km straight without doing intervals and that was a major milestone for me! In the middle of last year I set my new PB of 23:59 which I haven’t been able to nudge for awhile now.
Another thing I really enjoy about parkrun is the fact there are courses all over Australia and all over the world! parkrun tourisim is a big thing and something I am hoping to do more of this year. So far I have run parkrun in Melbourne, Batemens Bay and even Townsville (hot!). Locally I completed Goulburn at their launch, Tuggeranong and Burley Griffin. I do need to tick off Ginninderra and Coombs soon and I am looking forward to Mount Ainslie starting soon.
parkrun is as I mentioned is free and is run by volunteers to hold the event each week. Everyone is encourage to volunteer at least 4 times per year with different roles on offer. Personally I love to be the photographer so people can look back on the event for that week through my photos.
Improving my fitness and being able to run 5km encouraged me to push further with my running. Over the last couple of years I have completed the 10km at The Australian Running Festival in 2016, City2Surf 2016 (14km), Canberra Times Fun Run 2016 (14km), City2Sea Brisbane 2017 (14km), Half Marathon at Australian Running Festival 2017, City2Surf 2017, Half Marathon at Melbourne Marathon 2017, City2Sea Melbourne and Canberra Times Fun Run 2017. This goes to show that from someone who could not run at all what can be achieved. Just turn up each week!
To participate in parkrun you need to first register online and print out a barcode you must bring to every event and will work at any event world wide. See here for more information on Gungahlin parkrun and to register http://www.parkrun.com.au/gungahlin/