About tomfairbrother

Tom

Back from the brink

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Over the years I’ve had the privilege of sharing with you many accounts of people who have found parkrun to be an important tool in their battle against mental health related issues. Never in a million years did I imagine that I would be sharing with you mine. But here goes...

It all started back on Thursday the 11th of August. My wife and children dropped me at the airport to jump on a flight down to Sydney for a few meetings (you may remember as I wrote about these in this newsletter the following week). As I’ve done countless times before, I gave them all a kiss and a wave goodbye, cleared security and took a seat. As I waited my thoughts started to wander and before I knew it, my heart was racing, my throat was tightening and my head was telling me not to get on the plane. I had no idea what was happening or why and I was overcome with both fear and confusion. In a nutshell I was having a panic attack and, as I now know, this was the beginning of anxiety disorder. Somehow I still managed to get on the flight, and somehow I managed not to disembark in a panic as the remaining passengers also boarded. The flight itself was horrific; I kept my head buried in the in-flight magazine trying desperately to take my mind off what was really happening. By the time I landed and disembarked in Sydney I felt like I had run a marathon and was completely overcome with exhaustion. Over the next 48 hours I managed to ‘act’ my way through a series of meetings and social engagements, including a visit to Rhodes parkrun. I did a pretty good job of remaining calm on the outside but on the inside I was falling to pieces. By the time I returned home on Saturday evening I was a wreck, not knowing what had happened and, most scarily, what lay ahead.

Over the past seven weeks my world has been more or less on hold. I’ve been on leave (did anyone notice?), receiving treatment from both a naturopath and psychologist, and most importantly, taken the time to reflect on what led to my breakdown at the airport on the 11th of August. What’s become very clear is that the anxiety reared its head as a result of years of high intensity, high pressure work. I had created a lifestyle for myself where work and life were one in the same; there was no finish of one and start of the other. Over time this work-life-blend simply wore me down and my body responded through anxiety and panic. It has been a massive wakeup call and, although it’s been a terrible time, I’m relieved that I’ve been able to get on top of things before it was too late.

So why am I telling you this in the parkrun newsletter? Well firstly, if I’m going through this, it’s a safe bet that many of you are, or have been through, something similar. I’m lucky in that I was able to quickly identify my issues, face up to them, seek help and make the necessary changes. I couldn’t have done this without the support of my family, friends and parkrun colleagues; for this I am extremely grateful. So if you’re going through this now I want you to know that there is no shame in asking for help. I’ve received some benefit or level of support from every single person I’ve spoken with. Secondly, one of the biggest factors in starting to overcome this has been exercise, especially at parkrun. Without even knowing it, the smiles, laughter and friendships I received at parkrun have made my days better, even when I wasn’t feeling great at the time.

I know this letter has been a bit indulgent however I hope that these words help a few of you out there going through a tough time. I’m well on the road to recovery but certainly not out of the woods yet. Every day is presenting me with challenges, some bigger than others, however I’m confident that I’m on track. This week I’m back on deck as CEO of parkrun and I want to pay tribute to Renee Gimbert who has done an amazing job steadying the ship in my absence. I also want to thank Gareth Candy and the parkrun Australia Board for their support through this time. 

Onwards and upwards!

Tim Oberg
parkrun Australia CEO


pink parkrun bands


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parkrun milestones

It is not every day you get to celebrate achieving two parkrun milestones, however on International parkrun day, Zara Curtis, a JW10 runner, did just that at Point Cook.  Zara notched up 50 parkruns and ran as the 40 minute pacer to support others and also achieve 25 volunteers.  The parkruns were spread across 14 different courses in Victoria with a PB of 35:52 and volunteering across a number of different roles, with photographer the most popular.  

The spirit of parkrun is strong in her household, with her father, Craig a Territory Director, mother, Nicki a Run Director and brother, Hugh also an avid participant and volunteer all present to mark the occasion.  Whether running or volunteering, Zara always encourages others and has a positive attitude and smile on her face. Zara is a valued member of the Point Cook parkrun community and it is pleasing to see her achieve these significant milestones, well done.

Kate Scholtens & Dani McLaren
Event Directors Point Cook parkrun


essential stats

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Upcoming special events

Launches:
8/10 - Galston (NSW)
22/10 - Orange (NSW)
5/11 - Willoughby (NSW), Karkarook (Vic)
12/11 – Nepean River (NSW) 26/11 - Kamay (NSW)

Anniversaries:
08/10 – Berwick Springs (Vic) 3rd, Hamilton (Vic) 1st, Kalgoorlie-Boulder (WA) 3rd,  15/10 - Brightwater (Qld) 2nd, Grafton (NSW) 1st, Gungahlin (ACT) 3rd, Kingscliff (NSW) 4th, North Lakes (Qld) 4th, Paradise Point (Qld) 1st,
22/10 - Mosman (NSW) 3rd, Bunbury (WA) 3rd, Darwin (NT) 3rd, Highfields (Qld) 1st, Kawana (Qld) 4th, Mudgeeraba (Qld) 3rd, Westerfolds (Vic) 3rd,
29/10 – Port Macquarie (NSW) 1st,
5/11 – Maitland (NSW) 3rd, South Bank (Qld) 4th
12/11 - Diamond Creek (Vic) 3rd, Geographe Bay (WA) 2nd
19/11 – Launceston (TAS) 4th, Albert Melbourne (Vic) 5th, Calamvale (Qld) 2nd, Nambour (Qld) 1st, 

Cancellations:
8/10 – You Yangs (Vic)
15/10 – Launceston (Tas), Clare Valley (SA)
12/11 – Mt Penang (NSW)
19/11 – Tamborine Mountain (Qld)


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feedback from the field

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After an 8 hour drive to Sydney to pick up my wife Kerry and her friend Lisa from a cruise, my reward was some parkrun adventures to Sandon point parkrun. 

Allan Connolly

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Lovely community at Victor Harbor parkrun SA, recently completing parkrun #99 for me and #49 for Paul. Running our home course next week for our milestones (Berwick Springs)

Melissa Ellis


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parkdog of the week

Mishka is a 3 year old German Shepherd and is one of Lawson parkrun's most regular attendees who knows our fabulous 'trail' parkrun like the back of her hand. Not only does Mishka love doing parkrun, but as she lives with one of Lawson's run directors and she is also a competent and reliable official who is big on enforcing the 'short lead and run to the left of your human' policy.

In fact, Mishka is quite often found to be barking orders to other dogs ... in a friendly way. In this picture Mishka was a run official for our Easter parkrun that was organised and officiated completely by junior parkrunners. She was more than happy to get into the spirit of the day by dressing up as a rabbit - a costume she kept on for her run as well!  Mishka would like to encourage parkrun tourists to visit the Blue Mountains and meet her at 8am every Saturday morning!


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volunteer profile

Name -  Craig Murrell  

Age -  47  

Occupation -  Project Manager / Engineer (Self employed)

Home parkrun -  Gladstone Qld 

Number of parkruns (runner) - Somewhere after having a black shirt 

PB time - a tad under 22min  

Number of parkruns (volunteer) - I have a purple shirt, as well. (a lot more than are registered)  

Favourite volunteer role -  not sure - there are none that are difficult. 

I volunteer at parkrun because -  I like to give back a little bit.  It’s also nice to know that there is something that you do that directly benefits so many people. 

One thing I love about parkrun is -  sense of community, friendship and no pretentiousness!  

My most memorable parkrun moment was -  no single one.  It’s always good seeing people improve on their time and/or ability.

 

all in a parkrun day..

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It’s been a big week in the parkrun world, from our first Aussie Event Director reaching five years of service, to a proposal then a baby…. All in a parkrun day! 

On Saturday my husband and I attended South Bank parkrun for event number #200 and to join in the celebrations for Gareth Saunders, our longest standing Event Director who has reached 5 years.

Here is a special thanks from Tim Oberg: Gareth launched New Farm parkrun on the 17th of September 2011 and it quickly grew the event to be the largest parkrun in Australia, even as we grew into Sydney and Melbourne. By the one year anniversary of the event it was averaging over 300 runners and 10 volunteers per week, figures that most events struggle to achieve even today. 

On the 3rd of November 2012 Gareth launched South Bank parkrun and is of course still the Event Director to this day making him the longest serving volunteer with parkrun in Australia. During his tenure with parkrun Gareth has also served as volunteer Operations Manager, supporting me personally during times of unprecedented growth. Gareth also served as President of our Board for two years, transforming our governance and recruiting a high caliber of Board members around him.

Today parkrun is one of the largest and most successful community sporting organisations in Australia with 185 events and almost 365,000 members. I can safely say that no one person has contributed more to this success than Gareth Saunders and we certainly would not be in the position we are today if it were not for him. Finally, I would like to extend special thanks to Gareth's wife Mel for loaning Gareth to us over the last 5 years. We all know that it really is a team effort and Mel's contribution should not be underestimated."

That message stretches to all our partners, families, husbands & wives, being an Event Director is a team effort, so if you are the other half of an ED, Thank you! 

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parkrunner James Hogan proposed to his girlfriend Elizabeth Worrall, pictured above at Toowoomba on Saturday, The couple in the background, looking in on the proposal are two Gatton parkrunners who met at parkrun, got married and are having a parkrun baby!    James and I had been going to the same church for about a year but never spoken to each other (even though I'd been scoping him out for a few months before we started dating!). When we eventually started talking James told me about this parkrun he'd been doing (which I'd never heard of!) and invited me to come along the following week with him. He picked me up that morning before the run and I remember the first lap around we would chat casually, getting to know each other, but the second lap was significantly more quiet (both of us were out of breath! We did have a really nice time together after the run though and spent about an hour and a half sitting in Queen's Park, chatting and eating nectarines. parkrun has been great for us, James is definitely more committed at getting up early on a Saturday morning but we've done PBs together and pushed each other along.

Elizabeth Worrall

Now to the baby… Tony started running Dec 2013 when a friend of his nagged him to sign up for parkrun. Being quite competitive, he was quickly hooked. I started in January 2015 when a friend talked me into signing up for the GCAM half in July. Not realising how silly that was, I agreed and decided to use parkrun as part of my training. Tony and I met in February at our local parkrun (Gatton, where Tony is now a run director), and started dating shortly after GCAM. I'd love to say we spent a lot of time running together while we were dating, but he's way too fast for me. It's nice having someone cheering you home though! On a trip to New Zealand to meet each other’s families we enjoyed playing tourist at Western Springs parkrun. Tony proposed in March this year, just before heading to Canberra for the half marathon (and of course Ginninderra parkrun). We married at palm cove in late August (sneaking in a Cairns parkrun!), and were also able to announce that I was 13 weeks pregnant. We weren't able to keep this a secret for long at parkrun, as our friends quickly noticed my times slowing and the stops to accommodate my nausea! 

We are looking forward to continuing our active lifestyle (planning our holidays around parkruns) and I joke about adding an extra line to the volunteer sheet for anybody wanting to push the 'parkrun baby'! It's also very comforting to know we have this wonderful extended family within parkrun. We're both extremely grateful to parkrun, as I can't see how we would have met otherwise.

Amanda Worsley

This Saturday is the start of October and with it brings Bushy parkruns’ anniversary, also known as International parkrun Day. This marks 12 incredible years of parkrun, so which ever event you attend, or if this is your 5th or 50th parkrun - happy International parkrun Day!

Happy parkrunning,

Renee Gimbert
National Operations Manager
parkrun Australia


pink parkrun bands


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how parkrun has improved my life 

On Saturday, I ran my 50th parkrun. After being obese for nearly my whole life, I shed over 60kg in 2015 and 2016, and my health and fitness are the best they’ve ever been.

parkrun has been an integral component in my transformation, because it helped change the whole way I looked at physical activity — not as a dreaded chore, but as something to enjoy and look forward to. When I was dragging myself to the gym for mind-numbing sessions on the treadmill, I relied entirely on willpower and routine to keep me going: there was no pleasure in it whatsoever. I’m glad I didn’t have to find out how much longer I could have done that before willpower inevitably ran out.

I didn’t love running straight away: that took a few months. Before that happened, parkrun supplied two other important sources of motivation. First, parkrun gave me a sense of achievement and self-improvement that was far more powerful than anything I ever got on a treadmill. Second, the welcoming and inclusive atmosphere at New Farm parkrun made me feel like I had been accepted into a real community: it soon felt like home.

Eventually the bug did bite, and I started to love running. From there, 10km events and half-marathons soon followed, and I plan to tackle my first full marathon next year. I couldn’t even have imagined this at the start of last year. I don’t recognise myself, outside or in!

My 50th parkrun is an important milestone to me because it tells me that this is a lasting change in my life. So thank-you, New Farm parkrunners, and especially the events team. You’ve built an amazing community and my life is so much better for being part of it!

To pay it forward, I make an effort to say “hi” to new faces and ask them how their run went: I know it can make a world of difference!

Rudi Landmann


essential stats

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upcoming special events

launches:
8/10 - Galston (NSW)
22/10 - Orange (NSW)
5/11 - Willoughby (NSW), Karkarook (Vic)

anniversaries:
01/10 - Champion Lakes (WA) 1st, Hamilton Island (Qld) 1st, Petrie (Qld) 1st,
08/10 – Berwick Springs (Vic) 3rd, Hamilton (Vic) 1st, Kalgoorlie-Boulder (WA) 3rd,
15/10 - Brightwater (Qld) 2nd, Grafton (NSW) 1st, Gungahlin (ACT) 3rd, Kingscliff (NSW) 4th, North Lakes (Qld) 4th, Paradise Point (Qld) 1st,
22/10 - Mosman (NSW) 3rd, 

cancellations:
01/10 – Penrith Lakes (NSW)
15/10 – Launceston (Tas), Clare Valley (SA)
12/11 – Mt Penang (NSW)
19/11 – Tamborine Mountain (Qld)


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feedback from the field

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Recently both Madison McAuliffe (9) and Alex Langford (6) completed their 50th parkrun. To celebrate this milestone, it was announced in the school newsletter and 15 kids from Riverton Primary School attended. The sports teacher Mr Brooks who travelled 40 mins also attended along with the Principal Mr Grundy. It’s great to see teachers and so many children attend and support their peers.

Natalie McAuliffe

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Thanks to everyone who suggested Mt Clarence as the place to run whilst travelling WA. I ran my 100th parkrun with my daughter! Such a stunning run and friendly parkrun community. Thanks to the run team and volunteers today - those mountain inclines really tested my holiday legs! A far cry from the super flat home run of New Farm in Brisbane.

Helen Velkov


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parkdog of the week

Hi, my name is Reacher and I am a husky cross, which makes me adorable with 2 different coloured eyes. My human’s daughter picked me up on the side of the highway one night because she didn’t want to see me hurt, such a lovely human.

They did find my humans owners but it was ok for this family too keep me. I love my parkrun Saturday and if my human is volunteering and I can’t go I cry like the big sook that I am. I get very excited when we arrive and whimper with excitement to say hi to everyone.

I drag my human for the first 200 meters until I need to stop and relieve my excitement, well known for this, then I am off again. I know where the water stops are and I get very competitive when other humans or dogs pass us and try to take off in another direction when I see a bird, that bird is mine! 

My fastest time is 28:46 and I know I can go faster, I have done about 25 parkruns now, I am up to 15km and hoping to complete a half marathon with my human soon. I do think my human is weird when she does random jumps when we run, maybe I should learn to do them too. I love the attention and bacon that I receive at breakfast from all the volunteers and friends after our run each week.


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volunteer profile

Name - Andrew Kariko
Age - 44
Occupation - Electrician
Home parkrun - Varsity Lakes parkrun.
Number of parkruns (runner) - 161
PB time - 21:11

Number of parkruns (volunteer) - 30-40ish. Ok I've added them all up, twice and it comes to 37. Wow, that's heaps.

Favourite volunteer role - I don't really have a favourite role. When I write my name down to volunteer, I usually write down 'whatever'.

I volunteer at parkrun because - Pretty simple really. No volunteers, no parkrun. I get a lot from parkrun so I'm happy to return the favour.  Over the last five years I've missed nearly two year’s worth of parkruns due to work, so to volunteer every now and then is no big deal. And you can volunteer five times in one year and still get fifty runs, Weather permitting, and take advantage of the Christmas Day run and the New Year's Day double up.

One thing I love about parkrun is - Its consistent, every week is good. If you run at your home event or be a tourist at another. 

My most memorable parkrun moment was - There's not one moment that stands out. But I do get a big kick out of helping someone get a PB, usually a junior runner. Realising that they can push way outside of their comfort zone. I can't keep up with a few of those kids now.

 

parkrun, bringing people together

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I’ve heard, or read a number of stories this week about parkrunning bringing people together, whether it is neighbors or long lost friends, I love these stories & I hope you do too. 

Michaela Wilson – Before launching Meadowbrook parkrun, I was a regular at Logan River which is about 10km away. I have so many friends there that I was really torn to start my own event but I jumped on board. A few weeks ago I was approached by a parkrunner who was new to parkrun when Meadowbrook launched. She had met her neighbours at parkrun that morning! She introduced me as "Here's Michaela, the reason we're here! She's the wonderful person who started all of this". She then thanked me over and over, telling me what a wonderful thing it is that I've done, bringing neighbours together. At that moment, I realised, while yes I do miss my former home parkrun, starting this has brought so many new people to parkrun, people who wouldn't have started coming if we hadn't started Meadowbrook. It is all worth it!

Jenni Fitch - I was a parkrun tourist recently. My regular parkrun is Yarrabilba but I ran in Darwin. Imagine my sheer delight when the the RD was a friend who we'd lost contact with. Her husband and my husband worked together in North QLD and she came to my baby shower. That baby is now 13 and he ran as well. It was wonderful to catch up.

Our family recently gathered in Taree NSW to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday – being regular parkrunners at our home events (Rocks Riverside Brisbane, Cooks River Sydney and Newy in Newcastle parkrun) we were all keen to have a go at Taree parkrun. There were 16 of us across the three families on Saturday morning – and lots of fun (and a bit of competition!!) between uncles, aunties, cousins and brothers-in-law!! And a few surprising PB’s too. The volunteers at Taree parkrun were very friendly and welcoming, and we really enjoyed running along the beautiful riverbank – a great start to a special weekend, and thanks to parkrun for providing fun family memories.

I love that fact that not only does parkrun give you a free, timed, 5km weekly event, it also allows you to start new friendships and rekindle old ones.  Lastly, the lucky winner of the Medibank Melbourne Marathon Festival competition winning flights, accommodation and entry for two into the Melbourne Marathon event of their choice is Gail Severino. Well Done Gail – We’d love to hear an update from you after the event. 

Happy parkrunning,

Renee Gimbert
National Operations Manager
parkrun Australia

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pink parkrun bands


physical activity and health research

The beneficial effects of physical activity on health are well known. As one of the most popular pastimes, the benefits of running are well established. Anecdotally, many believe that running is bad for their knees and can lead to pain and osteoarthritis despite the limited evidence suggesting that this is not the case.

We are experienced sports medicine clinicians and academics based at the University of Nottingham (UK). We seek to understand the relationship between physical activity, such as running and chronic diseases, such as osteoarthritis.

All parkrunners are invited to get involved in our research, plus your friends and family. One aim will evaluate individuals who participate regularly in recreational running and the development of knee osteoarthritis over time. We hope to help guide healthcare professionals in the care of athletes and ensure runners participate in confidence and safety.

Following the launch of our UK-based project last year, we are now progressing our research with the assistance of the University of Sydney.

If you are aged 18 or over, we encourage you to sign up, whether or not you have any health or knee problems. Also please sign up regardless of how often you run (or even if you never run!). We want to recruit people who are very active, those who are inactive, and everyone in-between!

To enrol in the study, please follow this link and complete the questionnaire.

Richard Leech

PhD Researcher Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis
University of Nottingham, UK


essential stats

Essential Stats 17-09-16


upcoming special events

launches:
24/09 – You Yangs (Vic), Moree (NSW)  
8/10 - Galston (NSW)
22/10 - Orange (NSW)

anniversaries:
24/09 – Ashgrove (Qld) 1st, Bowral (NSW) 2nd, Merimbula (NSW) 3rd, Tamworth (NSW) 2nd, Toowoomba (Qld) 3rd, 
01/10 - Champion Lakes (WA) 1st, Hamilton Island (Qld) 1st, Petrie (Qld) 1st,
08/10 – Berwick Springs (Vic) 3rd, Hamilton (Vic) 1st, Kalgoorlie-Boulder (WA) 3rd, 
15/10 - Brightwater (Qld) 2nd, Grafton (NSW) 1st, Gungahlin (ACT) 3rd, Kingscliff (NSW) 4th, North Lakes (Qld) 4th, Paradise Point (Qld) 1st, 
22/10 - Mosman (NSW) 3rd, 

cancellations:
01/10 – Penrith Lakes (NSW) 
15/10 – Launceston (Tas), Clare Valley (SA)
12/11 – Mt Penang (NSW)
19/11 – Tamborine Mountain (Qld)


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feedback from the field

2016_09_20_04  

4 parkruns, 4 different countries across 4 consecutive weeks

While on holidays recently, my son and I took up the challenge of completing 4 parkruns in 4 different countries across 4 consecutive weeks.

We completed the Elgin parkrun in the highlands of Scotland, followed the next week by the Knocknacarra parkrun, near Galway in Ireland, then the Fulham Palace parkrun in London England and then finished off with our local Ashgrove, Queensland parkrun while suffering from jetlag, having only flown back in Brisbane the day before.

Our parkrun cousins in the UK and Ireland enthusiastically welcomed us at each of our runs and were excited to have overseas participants from Australia.

Peter and Chris Lamont

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Event #163 of Krakow parkrun included 47 locals, one visitor from England and two World Youth Day pilgrims from Brisbane, Australia.

Due to the World Youth Day celebrations which saw over 1.5 million young Catholics (and Pope Francis) visiting Krakow, the normal parkrun course could not be used.

Instead, we headed for the hills, specifically Kosciusko Mound which overlooks the stunning cityscape of Krakow. Of interesting note, Australia’s highest mountain is also named Kosciusko, after the same historical Polish figure. Our “Aussie’ pronunciation of ‘Kozzi-okso’ is a little different to the correct Polish pronunciation though!

As Wishart and Chermside regulars, the trail running aspect and hills were daunting, and we focused on finishing and enjoying the experience of an international parkrun. Upon closer inspection of the all important post event stats, it turns out that the elevation change was over 300m, with maximum heart rate a feature for most of the run.

Fabulous features of Krakow parkrun are that all participants shake hands with everyone else when arriving, and everyone remains until the tail runner finishes. This means lots of clapping and celebrating for each person when they cross the finish line. A group photo is taken after each run, and our Australian flag, souvenir gifts and some of the World Youth Day merchandise featured in the photo.

It is hard to describe the feelings of happiness and belonging that we felt despite being at a parkrun where we didn’t understand the language. The overwhelming sense of global community that parkrun provides cannot be understated, and we highly recommend parkrun adventuring or voluntouring as part of any good pilgrimage or holiday!

Monique Brennan & Alana McDonald

(Wishart run director & Chermside parkrunner)


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parkdog of the week

I am HRH Jay (I have heard my human’s husband call her a princess so I figure that makes me a prince!).

My home run is Shepparton  parkrun, it is a lovely flat course that we need to run around twice and there are 3 BBQ areas we pass – sometimes a careless human has dropped a sausage which I tidy up!

My human walks me around the course before the parkrun so I get all my er, business out of the way, but I always keep some in reserve for the official run!

We pass the finish chute twice before we actually run up it – I try to drag my human up each time we go past – that is the place where you get all the adulation and pats – what is wrong with her???

We also go past the fence of the local outdoor swimming pool and sometimes wascally wabbits are in there – lucky there is a good fence or I would be all over them like sauce on a sausage……mmmm sausage. . . .drool ... I always enjoy the adoration of my parkrun subjects and with such vigorous activity on a Saturday morning, my human and I have really earned our Saturday afternoon nap. 

PS – it is not a bib – it is a bandanna!


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volunteer profile

Name - Michaela Wilson

Age - 41

Occupation - Accounts Clerk

Home parkrun - Meadowbrook (Qld)

Number of parkruns (runner) - 89

PB time - 24:17

Number of parkruns (volunteer) - 32

Favourite volunteer role - Timekeeper because I love encouraging parkrunners to finish strong!

I volunteer at parkrun because - I love the community spirit and I enjoy helping people come together, make new friendships, and improve their health and well-being, because that is exactly what parkrun has given me.

One thing I love about parkrun is - The number one is the friendships I've made - runners are beautiful people!

My most memorable parkrun moment was - Meadowbrook launch - the amazing turnout, and thinking how far I've come. From a non-runner less than 3 years ago, to now never missing a parkun, and Event Directing a new event.

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