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50th parkrun

On Saturday 27th February, I ran my 50th parkrun. It was such a special moment for me and I wanted to try to explain why.

Firstly, I’m definitely not a runner.

I’m a physiotherapist and I really enjoy being active. I understand all the benefits of physical activity both physically and mentally. I believe in it and I love it.

I’ve always enjoyed running for fitness but I’ve never been very good at it. When I started Parkrun on 27/7/19, I just wanted to finish the 5k. My time was 43.26.

That first run was seven months after the birth of my second child. As many mothers will know, finding time to exercise with little ones around is difficult at best. There are so many competing priorities for your time. Throw in some serious sleep deprivation and running 5km feels like a marathon!

I ended up doing three Parkruns in 2019 and seven in 2020 before COVID put a pause on all Parkruns in Australia. In 2021, Parkrun was my friend. After one of the hardest years running a healthcare business, Parkrun was my outlet. I could let off steam and meet my desire to be active every week. This was made possible by my very supportive husband, who stayed home with our two children to enable me to run.

The thing about Parkrun is that it isn’t just about running 5km. It’s so much more than that. Parkrun is a community. I have met some incredible people through my weekly exercise outlet - some of whom I may never have crossed paths with if it wasn’t for a shared enjoyment of being active outdoors. The support and friendships at Parkrun are truly special.

Parkrun is free too. You register online once and then receive an email after every Parkrun with your time and how that compares with your age-matched peers around the world. This is a great way to motivate yourself to run better next time.

Parkrun is also a beautiful opportunity to enjoy our natural environment. Hearing the very recognisable call of red tailed black cockatoos and spotting them in the native scrub at the Naracoorte Lake Parkrun is one of many highlights of my 50 runs.

The other really special thing about Parkrun is you can do it almost everywhere!

I’ve clocked up 5km in Hamilton, Port Fairy, Pakapakanthi, Henley Beach, Strathalbyn, Goolwa and Mt Barker as well. The kindness, encouragement and support is always the same at every Parkrun. It’s difficult to explain unless you have experienced it for yourself, and I really encourage everyone to do so. Parkrun is organised entirely by volunteers, and this really adds to the community feel.

It wasn’t my best time on Saturday (30.32) but if someone had told me 3 years ago that I would run 5km in 30 minutes, I would have told them they were dreaming! Achieving my PB late last year of 28.08 was a very satisfying realisation of a personal goal, and I feel like I can definitely go faster than that so that’s the next goal.

As I reflect on achieving my 50th Parkrun, I feel lucky that my health enables me to do something I love every weekend. I feel lucky that my family support me to pursue my interest in being physically active. I feel lucky to call myself a runner with running friends and I feel proud that I have finished 50 Parkruns.

Hope to see you on the Parkrun circuit one day in the future!

~ Angela Willsmore


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