Written by Shane Gillard: @runningmytitsoff

Parkrun, for a lot of people has been a game changer. Especially in social running circles and community based fitness groups. Parkrun for anyone that’s hasn’t come across it, is a free timed 5km run, where anyone and everyone is welcome. From the elite class all the way down to first timers and walkers.  Parkrun is a great place to get active with friends and family and meet like minded people. Parkrun is a social event carried out every Saturday morning (weather or social distancing permitting). For myself Parkrun has been a place to share good times with friends and family, push the limits and meet new and amazing people. 

During my 50+ different Park running events, I have met and spent them with people of many different walks of life. I would never have met most of these people if it wasn’t a part of the community. The photo above highlights the different ages and different backgrounds. Plus we all have a different level of fitness but share a common goal. We all enjoy moving forward and the world we have in front of us. Some my fondest and proudest moments of my running journey has come from Parkrun.

It’s as fun as it is rewarding. One really memorable moment was when I saw a bloke, sheepishly cruising to the back of the pack. Sussing out what really goes on here. I approached him and introduced myself, explained how it went down and we where off! For the next half an hour we pushed each other, laughed with each other and shared the experience. A complete stranger yet with a common interest we made the best of a good morning. How cool!

Parkrun for me isn’t just a social thing for myself, it is also a family affair. Not only with my actual family but with my running family as well (Pakenham Road Runners). I have spent many Saturday morning chasing my own goals over the years but my favourite part, is when I am able to spend time with my family. The kids love getting out and enjoy the hi 5’s and the social side of it as well. 

Nothing has given me more pleasure than having my mother join us. Growing up we where never the most active family. And when my mother would exercise she did it for her as we sent her mad at home (sorry mum!) However, now we are all older, have moved out and she has begun to enjoy the social side of Parkrun.

Parkrun is a great community initiative to get people together and get active. Parkrun is completely FREE is a free and relies on volunteers to help run and support the events. The run directors do a great job with all of the organisation and administration work. At my local Parkrun in Pakenham, we have a strong community of volunteers to help out. I have done quite a few different volunteer roles over the time, and really they are some of my most memorable and favourite events! From tail walker with my daughter to leading people to personal best times during pacer week. I really enjoy giving back to the community. To the community that has given me so much.

I have been on both sides of the field. Pacer week for me is awesome! Some highlights were when I lead a small group to 24 minute 5km! Plus, that day I helped 2 runners achieve and set a new personal best (PB). My current PB is just shy of 22 minutes for 5km.

All in all if it wasn’t for Parkrun I would still probably be out there running, but without it I wouldn’t have the stories and memories I do today. I definitely wouldn’t have meet so many great people from all walks of life. Like Bernie, a 72 year old man who is there rain, hail or shine. I recently spoke to a group of mothers that I met last week. They are using Parkrun as an unofficial meeting for them to get out of the house and get active at the same time. Parkrun is definitely the best way to start a weekend and with coffee at the local afterwards, how could you not join!

If you are looking to get involved with Shane at Pakenham Parkrun, you can find out more here: https://www.parkrun.com.au/pakenham/