Being a runner myself, today’s Who’s Awesome is a little close to my heart. My journey to becoming a runner has been slow and mostly solitary. When I took up running back in 2008 not too many people I knew ran and those that did were much fitter and faster than I was. With no other option in sight I hit the pavement, alone. Without a fancy running watch or a smart phone I had no real idea of how far or fast I was moving (in the beginning it was not very and slowly!) My only option for a getting a good feel of my ability was running in competitive races which were intimidating, only occurred sporadically and came at a price. Over the past few years friends have often come to speak to me about taking up running and where I always suggest they start…. parkrun.
In 2004 with just 13 runners parkrun was born in Bushy Park, Teddington, UK. When the run started in 2004 it was the only weekly, timed FREE 5km run, open to all ages and abilities, in the UK and possibly the world.
From the outset parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt wanted the event to be a community project where runners could always participate for free. Today the pillars of parkrun worldwide are still the same; free, weekly 5km timed runs which are completely inclusive and aim to build on and extend communities.
On April 4, 2011 Tim Oberg launched the first parkrun in Australia on the Gold Coast and under his and his team’s watchful eye the concept has expanded into 739 clubs in 69 locations.
The fact that these events are not only free but timed has opened the door of running, exercise and fitness to so many people that previously may have been intimidated or unsure of where to start. A community being built around health and wellbeing that is inclusive and free is about as awesome as it can get. Being a completely free event a big shout out needs to go to the volunteers that make each event possible but also the sponsors Adidas, Suncorp and Stockland. The sponsorship landscape is immense so thank you for putting your money behind such an awesome community event.
So, what are you doing on Saturday morning? I think you should jump onto http://www.parkrun.com.au/ and find your nearest parkrun event. As my friend Sarah says “there’s no greater competition than yourself” so come back the week after and see if you can beat yourself to the finish.
Thanks to parkrun worldwide, we think you are AWESOME!