Sneakers and smiles

17 Mar

Mayrne.pngBy Maryne Glas, Bond University Journalism Student

Families, fitness clubs, dog walkers, advanced runners and social strollers all laced up their trainers and headed to various locations across Australia on Saturday to partake in Parkrun events.

Parkrun hosts runs every Saturday morning in over 200 different locations at no cost to the participants as the organisation is run by volunteers.

Event Director of the Coomera Parkrun Gavin Mathieson and his family are avid Parkrun supporters who attend every Saturday to kick-start their weekend in a positive community environment that welcomes people of all ages and abilities.

“It’s a great community because it allows people of all abilities and all ages to get out there – you can register from four years old on and we’ve got some people that run into their late 70s,” he said.

Mr Mathieson believes that the attitude of not only the participants but also the volunteers contributes to the positive atmosphere at the events.

“It’s run by the community for the community and the people that are running the events enjoy it as much the people that are running,” he said.

Volunteer and runner Andrew Karol has been hooked on Parkrun since attending his first event in 2012 and he hopes to recruit new volunteers and runners as well as reach his 200th run by July.

“It’s welcoming and friendly plus it’s free – I believe it’s very inspirational,” he said.

“There’re lots of people who at first are very reluctant and then realise, hey this is pretty good and they get encouraged to go along – it’s a very positive atmosphere.”

South African tourist Hien Bodemer, 65, attended his first Parkrun event this past Saturday while visiting family on the Gold Coast.

Mr Bodemer said he was nervous to attend as it’s been years since his last official race and believes he is no longer as fit as he once was.

“I wasn’t sure I’d follow through with it until I got there – timed runs can be nerve-wracking for those of us are getting up there in age and aren’t as quick as we once were,” he said.

After being welcomed by volunteers and other participants Mr Bodemer said he was reassured that the times don’t matter and many of the participants just come to walk and socialise.

“I think Parkrun is a great organisation and I wish we had events like this back home,” he said.

More information about Parkrun can be found on their website, http://www.parkrun.com.au/.

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