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How joining a running community changed my life

Five Australians share how getting involved in a weekly running community helped them achieve new goals.

Parkrun is a series of weekly, timed, 5 km runs in parks throughout Australia and the world. It’s for absolutely everyone – from walkers and beginner runners, all the way to Olympic athletes. The only race you’re running is the one against your time from last week. It’s free and a great way to stay motivated and increase your fitness, all in a relaxed and fun social environment.

Here are just a few stories from the parkrun community about the difference it has made to people’s lives.

John

Of all the people you might think had earned a relaxing sleep in on a Saturday morning, it would be 83-year-old John Taylor from Mooloolaba. However, John would disagree. You see, John likes to run – loves it, in fact – and he recently took part in his 200th parkrun.

John is not only the oldest person in Australia to reach this milestone, he is also one of the oldest in the world.

John runs at Nambour, the only run that goes entirely through bush trails on the Sunshine Coast, making it arguably the toughest parkrun in Australia. And he has no plans to slow down just yet.

Michelle

Michelle signed up for parkrun to not only help herself, but also her son Luke, who suffers from ADHD and dyslexia. “I wanted to find a way to help Luke experience a sense of achievement, to receive positive feedback and to burn off some energy,” she says.

Luke has loved the experience. His behaviour at school has improved and so have his grades.

Unsurprisingly, it’s not just Luke who has benefitted. As well as regularly attending parkrun, Michelle mountain-bikes and has now lost more than 35 kg. After seeing how much fun they’ve been having, other members of Michelle’s family have now signed-up to become fellow parkrunners.

“parkrun has helped bring back my confidence and love for life. But most importantly it has brought some amazing people into my life who I can now call friends.”

Reece

In 2011 Reece turned to parkrun as a way to help him cope with the grief and anxiety that had been a constant presence in his life since the loss of his mum. He hadn’t run for some time and needed something to once again bring out his inner runner. He wasn’t confident he’d be able to finish the 5 km, but he was determined to give it a go.

Run it he did, and he’s been running ever since, recently celebrating his 100th parkrun.

“parkrun has helped bring back my confidence and love for life,” he says. “But most importantly it has brought some amazing people into my life who I can now call friends.”

Lydia

Lydia was first introduced to parkrun when she was seven and now runs regularly with her family. Through their busy week, they see parkrun as a way to relax and have fun together.

On her first parkrun Lydia loved being out in the fresh air, being active, and meeting so many wonderful people she now considers great friends.

She keeps going back to parkrun because running makes her feel relaxed and free. “I can just do what I love and see my friends each week. Being active is the way that I relax, feel good and look forward to next Saturday!”

Kristi

For Kristi, parkrun is a chance for the whole family (animals included) to get moving on a Saturday morning. It didn’t take her long to realise that how seriously you take parkrun is completely up to you. “You can walk, jog, run, dance and jump.”

It’s a reminder for Kristi that it’s not just elite sportspeople who can participate and be rewarded with praise, and more importantly, that you can be a sportsperson without being elite at all. It has also helped her through her own health and fitness journey and brought her family closer together.

Want to join the parkrun community?

Simply register once online to receive your athlete ID number and barcode via email. Then print these out and you can take them to any parkrun event in the world.

Find your closest location and sign up for parkrun.

Here’s what to expect at your first parkrun.

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