Saturday, 3 March 2012

Everybody Needs a parkrun in Their Life

Name: Sue Holdsworth               

Home parkrun: Newcastle
Date of first parkrun: 22 May 2010
Total Number of parkruns: 20
Number of other parkrun locations run: I’ve volunteered at Gateshead once but have never ran another course
Number of times volunteered: 46
My parkrun history:


I was never the sporty one in my family, my PE teacher hated me and I had every excuse going not to do games lessons.  My idea of hell was cross country running in the cold and wet so I would run with the group till we were out of sight of the teacher and then hang around till they all came back, then join the back of the pack and jog back to school.  I didn’t do any exercise after finishing school till I started work after university.  A new life sitting on my bum in an office meant I started to gain weight and I decided I needed to do some exercise.  I went along with a friend to an aqua aerobics class once a week.  This had no effect on my weight – possibly because all we did was gossip at the back of the class.  I made several half hearted attempts over the years to join gyms and ‘get fit’ but never really lost that feeling of being ‘unsporty’.  10 years ago I moved house and joined the gym close to our new home.  The owners are triathletes and started a beginners running group one night after work.  I gave it a go and quite enjoyed it.  But after a few weeks, the group gradually reduced in numbers and eventually stopped happening.  So I went back to visiting the gym once every month or so.  I was roped into running a few race for life events through work and always enjoyed the atmosphere of the run.  I still hated the training though ;)


Three years ago, I was in hospital with a kidney infection and on IV antibiotics and felt worse than I ever had in my life.  I was overweight, unfit and unhappy.  I decided there and then to grow up, take responsibility and start looking after myself.  So I lost some weight, entered another race for life, bought a treadmill and started out on a beginners running plan.  The day I ran 1 mile without stopping for the first time, I was so happy and proud of what I achieved.  I had well and truly caught the running bug.  I started searching the internet for other races I could enter and stumbled across parkrun.  My nearest was Middlesbrough – about 40 miles from home.  Needless to say I never made it there by 9am on a Saturday morning.  And then one day, I heard that there was a new one, starting on the Town Moor, just 7 miles from home.  I got in touch with the race director and offered my services as a volunteer (because I was struck down with my first running injury – ITBS).  But I had to be a part of it so I turned up one dark, cold, wet, windy Saturday morning in January to join the team of volunteers.  Despite the weather we had a great time and the whole thing went smoothly.


I volunteered on and off for the next few months and finally, in May 2010, I lined up on the start line with 82 fellow runners.  I ran/walked the course because my injury still wasn’t quite fixed, but I still remember the sense of achievement as I crossed the line.  It made it more special to be greeted at the finish by the sight of the smiley, supportive volunteers who knew my name and clapped as I crossed the line.


Parkrun has become such an important part of my life.  I’ve made great friends there and it’s the best way to start the weekend.  I volunteer more than I run and that’s helped my get to know people and feel part of the community.  Even when I race at different events across the region, there’s always a parkrunner there with a smile and an encouraging word.  Nobody cares that I don’t run fast, they just care that I run and that I enjoy it.  And that’s how I feel about all the other runners.  I stand on the town moor on a Saturday morning and get a burst of pride.  We make this happen every week.  We don’t get paid and we don’t do it for the thanks.  Being part of the parkrun family is reward enough.


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