welcome to the newsletter
This week's newsletter is coming to you from Sydney, in particular from Sydney's Inner West which is known for bearded hipsters, cafes with indecipherable menus and more importantly, St Peters parkrun! I'm Paul Wilcock; I founded St Peters parkrun back in January 2012. I'd started running at the beginning of 2011 to lose a bit of weight and the habit stuck. While looking online for local running events I stumbled across the parkrun concept and thought it'd be a good idea to start one in my local park, Sydney Park. It also helped that I lived across the road and already had several 5K courses plotted out!
Luckily, I had help from Aaron Pidgeon, a parkrunner who'd moved down to Sydney from the Gold Coast. We put the word out on running forums and by handing out a few hastily printed flyers at local running events and we had a small group helping us test drive and fine tune the course in the months leading up to the launch. We had 122 people join us on launch day and haven't looked back since!
I had no idea what I was getting myself into with parkrun, but it's easily one of the best things I've ever done. I've met so many great people, and the community that grew around the event is incredibly supportive, welcoming and friendly. St Peters was the first parkrun in NSW and I'm incredibly proud to see how much parkrun has grown in Sydney and around the rest of the country. I've been lucky enough to visit 21 different parkrun events around the world and every single one has the same great atmosphere and friendly community. But no matter how far, or how wide I roam, I still call St Peters home.
I couldn't do any of this alone and I want to thank the awesome event team at St Peters. My wife Emily, who's been incredibly supportive and helpful with all things parkrun concerned. Silpa, who organises our volunteers every week, and all of my Run Directors, Sharon, Nigel, SS, Olivia, Annie, Tim, Simon, Kelly, Xanthe and Sam AND all the hundreds of volunteers who make parkrun happen every week. Thank you!
Essential Stats for Australia & Singapore – 17/10/2015:
Number of locations – 141
Number of runners – 18,432
Number of PBs – 3,097
Number of first timers – 3,011
Number of volunteers – 1,318
All time registrations – 246,594
The Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can't Run Good
'The Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can't Run Good started as a pseudo-team. A team for people who didn't want to be a part of a real running team. A team for those who wanted a running singlet and a cool team name, but no arduous responsibilities such as training, competing, or being interested in running. It started as in in-joke between four blokes, but soon enough word got out and others wanted in on the good times. A core group of around 50 formed in and around St Peters parkrun. But once the team name hit the parkrun database and social media, the numbers exploded far beyond any realistic expectations. Around 900 'Zoolanders' are now in on the joke, with around 450 selecting the DZCFKWCRG as their parkrun team, making the Center the 24th largest club in the world. Members have been spotted Blue Steeling at parkruns in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK, the USA and Canada.
Membership is open to anyone that doesn't take the exercise caper too seriously, because after all, there is more to life than being really really ridiculously good at running. So if you're looking for like-minded folk, join in the fun on Facebook, make them your parkrun team, and come say hello after your next parkrun. There are no fees, meetings or expectations, except that you've got a sense of humour. Orange mocha Frappuccinos all around."
‘My First Half Marathon’ by Wendy Glen
On Sunday I lived a dream and finished a half marathon. But let me tell you how it happened.
Two and a half years ago my mother passed away. Over the previous few years I also lost one of my brothers and my father to cancer. At the same time my kids grew from beautiful children to independent young adults. With the death of my mum (who I cared for through her journey with melanoma and bilateral breast cancer), a very busy season of my life came to an abrupt end and I suddenly had time, and quite a lot of it, on my hands. No more scans, doctors, dressings of post-radiation coffee and cake. The fantastic support from Eastern Palliative Care (and specifically my family support worker) helped me find some new pathways as I navigated this new territory. Along with some internet friends (mostly in America) I set the audacious goal of walking 500 Miles in the year and doing the 4km Mother’s Day Classic in May in memory of Mum. I quickly realised that 500 miles was going to take quite some time so, just quietly one day at the park, with no one in sight, I jogged. I'm guessing I got somewhere around 100 metres before I saw a person in the distance and slowed to a civilised walk (well as civilised as it can get whilst gasping for air). This was my season of "sneaky jogging" - too embarrassed to be seen jiggling and jogging. But with the encouragement of my 500 Mile buddies on the internet, I bought a sports bra, new shoes and a pair of shorts and signed up with a personal trainer who another of my brothers worked out with.
About this time I heard from some Church friends about parkrun. For someone a bit embarrassed to be seen exercising in public it seemed like a long stretch so I worked out hard on my own before being brave enough to front up at Westerfolds. My tummy was churning; would I keep up with the others, get lost in the park, embarrass myself, fall over, come last, be the worst????! Well you all already know that none of that mattered once I got out there and in one morning my life changed. I found the most amazing supporters, challengers, encouragers, fun bunch of people ever. The inclusivity is amazing. As one of my parkrun buddies said "where have you people been for my whole life".
How can I be 50 years old and still finding new friends? Amazing and inspirational and loving and thoughtful friends. Friends who will run slowly so we can run together. Friends who understand my joy at the changing colours of leaves on the trees, of new ducklings or chattering rainbow lorikeets. Friends who don't look at me oddly as I shout hello to the kangaroos at the 3km mark of parkrun. Friends who understand that for me, stretching my boundaries can cause immense anxiety and worry but support me through it because we all know it's worth it.
So, THAT is how I came to find myself, stomach churning again, at the start line of a half marathon, living a dream with my parkrun buddies. The time isn't important (2.20.22) but the friendship and support WERE important. A parkrun buddy (one of our Run Directors) who I started with, met up with me again on an uphill bridge thing at 20km. I was all for slowing down but she took my hand and said she wouldn't leave me behind.
Running has given me nothing of more value than some amazing and inspirational people. Westerfoldians, you know who you are. People who believe in each other and support each other. Priceless.
parkdog of the week
Hi my name is Coco Blair and I am a 4 year old chocolate Labrador. I started doing St Peters parkrun when I was just a pup. Everyone is very friendly at St Peters and they often give me lots of pats and words of encouragement. I also like visiting other parkruns like Parramatta on Christmas Day! My family have clocked nearly two hundred parkruns but I really like volunteering as a tail runner or being part of the cheer squad.
Upcoming Special Events
24/10 – Highfields (Qld)
31/10 – Port Macquarie (NSW)
28/11 – Surfers Paradise (Qld), Cronulla (NSW)
24/10 – Bunbury (WA) 2nd, Darwin (NT) 2nd, Kawana (Qld) 3rd, Westerfolds (Vic) 2nd
31/10 – Mudgeeraba (Qld) 2nd
7/11 – Maitland (NSW) 2nd, South Bank (Qld) 3rd
14/11 – Diamond Creek (Vic) 2nd, Geographe Bay (WA) 1st, Launceston (Tas) 3rd
21/11 – Albert Melbourne (Vic) 4th, Calamvale (Qld) 1st, Sandgate (Qld) 3rd
28/11 – Minnippi (Qld) 2nd, The Beaches (NSW) 1st
Until further notice – Heirisson Island (WA)
17/10 – Launceston (Tas)
24/10 – Chermside (Qld)
31/10 – Wangaratta (Vic), Penrith Lakes (NSW)
14/11 – Tamborine Mountain (Qld), Shepparton (Vic)
28/11 – Penrith Lakes (NSW), Lillydale Lake (Vic)
13/02 – Geographe Bay (WA)
Feedback from the field
Daniel Horne – North Shore parkrun provides high energy smiling friendly faces in a social environment that is for the betterment of everyone for free. The Run Directors work hard and is much appreciated. Thanks.
Hayley Tyler - I can't believe that in a year and 4 months (give or take) I notched up my 50th parkrun yesterday at Logan River Parkrun. 250km of sometimes walking, sometimes running and always finishing. Not bad for someone who hated early mornings (especially on weekends) and hated running. For me, the Logan River parkrun has been the best thing I could have done. It's given my "now husband" and I something to do together every Saturday and gets us going for the weekend. We have an amazing group of new found friends and always leave with a huge smile on our face. In just over a year I've gone from 43 minutes at my first parkrun to 36:09 with a goal of being under 35 by this time next year. We have been so supported by the volunteers that do what they can for us to make it such a great event. We have Dan the motivator who if it wasn't for him I would never have expected to get under 40. Our RD's remember names, special dates and are always full of encouragement. Then there are the people who will call out your name (even when you have no idea what theirs is) and give you that extra push. It doesn't who you are or how slow you're going, there will always be someone clapping for you over the finish line. If it wasn't for the people, I don't think I would have made fifty. We all know it, but there's something so special about our parkrun and I'm so glad that it's a part of our weekly routine! Here's to the next 50!
Kellie Gluyas - Just wanted to say a big thank you to the 40 minute pacer at Saturday’s Logan River parkrun - I think his name was Dan. It was my first parkrun, and I haven’t run for about 3 years (due to injury) - so my goal was just to finish with a combination of walk/jog periods. I was kinda hoping for around 45 minutes (based on my walking pace and trying to do it a bit faster with the jogging intervals) but in all honesty I didn’t mind what time I did my first one in, as long as I did it! I somehow, by luck, ended up near Dan who kept motivating me to run more, run longer and don’t give up. I loved the encouragement he provided, he did push me harder than I would have pushed myself. I also liked that other runners on the track encouraged and supported everyone towards the back of the pack - that was nice! I don’t entertain notions of ever being an elite athlete, but just to get out and move more and lose a bit of weight, so it was nice to be accepted and supported on my first run. When I was running 3 years ago, I did probably 6-8 fun runs a year, such as Bridge to Brisbane, Tour De Tamborine and Mother’s Day fun run - I loved them but always felt a little like I didn’t belong, that my slow pace was out of place in such big fun runs. I felt totally at home and accepted at the Logan River parkrun, but it also had that timed/competitive (against yourself not others) feel that the bigger fun runs have. I loved it! Dan did manage to get me across the line, right at the 40 minute mark so a big thank you to him for all his support and effort - I felt a little like I could possibly throw up or maybe just collapse once I crossed that line but I didn’t do either so Dan must have pushed just enough and not too much (even if it felt like too much at the time!). Now I have a marker, a goal to see if I can do it again by myself, see if I can improve. I feel like my first park run was so excellent, and set the bar so high, will every week be that amazing??!!! I can’t wait for Saturday to give it another go, this time with my barcode so I can record my time. And my daughter is going to join me too - yay! Thank you to everyone at parkrun for organising and running such an excellent event - I really appreciate your commitment.
Drop me an email if you have an interesting parkrun related fact, happening or comment that you would like to share with all parkrunners.
Name: Athene Chariot.
Home parkrun: St Peters
Number of runs: 144
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: There are so many, every week brings something new or funny. But one that I always look back on with fond memories and a big smile was our very first Halloween parkrun. It was a hoot! Seeing so many people dress up and get right into the 'spirit' of it all was a blast! Some ripper costumes! I was dressed as a zombie chalking the course pre run and adding some Halloween cartooning and decoration to it, and set all the dogs out for their early morning walks in the park off!!!
I volunteer at parkrun because: I do the course chalking most weeks, which suits me being a bit quirky, and a cartoonist, and I like to add a few little rhymes or pics to the directions to hopefully add a little extra fun to the run. I like to see people run happy! It’s good to do other jobs like marshal and encourage others, and just be a part of a great bunch of runners and volunteers who are like family to me now. It feels good to put back!
One thing I love about parkrun is: When people come along for the first time, and they might not be very fit, or don't think they can run, but they finish, either walking, running, or a bit of both, and they look so happy! And they come back!! I see parkrun change so many people's lives!