Why did I choose to give up my Saturday mornings?
The title is a little bit click-bait-ish, because it doesn't really feel like I'm giving up my Saturday mornings for parkrun, because I get so much in return. In a few weeks, Pallara parkrun will launch.
I have been a run director at Calamvale parkrun for a few years. But my parkrun journey goes back about 4 years when the Calamvale run began. A few friends set up this parkrun, and while I had never been a runner, I thought I would support them setting up this event. My wife was running at this point in time, and her friends were running at this parkrun.
I went through what I think would be a typical trajectory of involvement - running with my family for a number of months, then meeting new people and running with them, then volunteering in basic roles like marshalling and barcode scanning.
Christmas parkrun with the kids
Eventually I thought that I was a good candidate for run director. I have the skills since I manage a team in business for my day job. I found it thoroughly rewarding to deliver an event for the community on a Saturday morning. I loved seeing volunteers gain confidence in their roles, and meet new people.
But then pakrun became much more for me. When I was struggling with my mental health, it was an opportunity to interact with good people. It forced me to get out of my head. I have a tendency to retreat within myself when I'm not doing so well. By going regularly to parkrun on a Saturday morning, there were other friendly faces to talk to. One of the great things about parkrun is you don't ever have to talk about whatever may be difficult in your life. You can always talk about running!
I've also met some wonderful, caring and community minded men. This has been so important to me, because I don't have a group of close male friends to interact with. So through running & cycling I have met a few groups of men who I can talk to about issues I'm facing, or parenting, or whatever I need to get off my chest. And I don't know why, but runners and cyclists - probably any frequent exercisers - tend to be genuinely positive people always looking on the bright side of life. So when I have been down, I have been able to see my negativity reflected in their positivity and take steps to change things.
So when the opportunity came up to be an event director and bring Pallara parkrun to life, I didn't hesitate too long. I did discuss with my wife the responsibility and dedication it would require to ensure the event comes to life. We were both hesitant initially because we both lead busy lives. But I thought it was important that I was involved in this local community event - especially since I've been such a strong advocate for parkrun.
It has taken some time and effort to get to a position to be able to launch the event. And whilst on the whole I don't feel like it has taken too much time, each step along the way has taken more time than I thought it would.
My great hope is that the community embrace Pallara parkrun and make it their own. I'd love the event to be a place where people who are struggling a bit with their life, can come and make new friends. I'd like it to be a place where parents go to regain their fitness, and bring their children to show that fitness can be fun. I'd like it to be a place where the elderly can walk or run the course, retaining their fitness in retirement. I'd like it to be a place where great runners come to challenge themselves, and teach up and coming runners how to run better.
I've seen parkrun deliver these types of returns already. I'm sure Pallara will be no different.