Warragul Parkrun 7th Birthday

Warragul parkrun celebrated its seventh birthday on Saturday, with an ‘S for Seven’ theme. Word reached the South Pole and Santa hoofed it over for an unseasonal visit; superheroes, with capes flying, interrupted their saving of the planet; sunflowers waved in the sunshine and more than a few other ‘S’, as in ‘Sus’, characters joined the celebratory run.  It was a simply sensational Saturday sight!

Each Saturday at 8am at Brooker Park, Warragul, people from upwards of five years old and with varying abilities, meet to walk or run the 5km parkrun route; the course is generally flat but does have an uphill rise to provide extra challenge for participants’ leg muscles.

Saturday’s birthday event had 90 participants which included three first timers – Carolyn, Clare and Julian. 12 personal bests were achieved by Andrew, Bianca, Bradley, Emily, Ethan, Erik, Hugo, Kim, Marley, Peter, Xavier and Zane.  Marley completed her 25th parkrun, Michael and Luke their 100th and Lea achieved 100 volunteer gigs. Parkrun loves to celebrate all achievements!

Warragul parkrun really does have a great community spirit and resolve to be inclusive and encouraging, giving people the opportunity for social interaction, exercise and serving others, as part of volunteer teams or organising the Warragul event during the year.  To top it off, it’s FREE!!  After each week’s event, you can extend the social time and rehash the morning’s run while grabbing a cuppa at Warragul Country Club.

If running with friends once per week isn’t enough to satisfy your restless feet, you can hit the road on Good Friday with the Baw Baw Runners Fun Run at Rokeby and then the Drouin Golf Club Mother’s Day Classic 4km / 8km Fun Run – both great events to raise money for worthy causes, where you’ll most likely see many of the regular Warragul parkrunners.

In the words of Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Runner and Author:

“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.”

With the encouragement of her daughter, Mel, Cheryl started participating in Warragul’s parkrun the very second week it was up and running (pun intended).  At the start, Cheryl would walk the course but, in time, she built up her fitness to run it consistently each week. Parkrun has become an important, integral part of Cheryl’s routine and she is committed to making the run every week that life permits her to.

Cheryl’s goal to not miss any runs was rudely interrupted last year due to a battle with cancer but, with determination, she worked her way back to being able to run the entire 5km; this week was her third in a row.  Statistically, Cheryl holds the record for completing the most events of anyone from Warragul parkrun – 251  out of 304, with a grand total of 274 total parkrun events completed. What an achievement and testimony to her resolve!  Cheryl gives back to parkrun not only with her consistency and enthusiasm, but by volunteering – her tally sits at 29 official acts of service. 

For Cheryl, parkrun has many benefits:  “It’s social, gets you out of bed on a Saturday morning and running the 5km is an achievement that you feel good after, and you’ve earned that cup of coffee and breakfast.”

Cheryl’s goal is to keep up with parkrun and get back to doing it every week. Such a great story of victory over illness and a positive attitude to life.

Chris, our interviewer extraordinaire, managed to glean from Les Corson that he had Cornflakes for breakfast!  It’s the attention to small things that we love about Chris!

On a more serious note, when asked about the history of parkrun in Les’ life, a very interesting story emerged.  Les’ original involvement was in Launceston, where he ran with a group who were organising and bringing parkrun to Launceston in 2012.  One of the group was from England and knew of parkrun and so introduced the concept to the others.  In 2013, when Les moved to Australia (oops, the Mainland), he ran with a group in Wonthaggi, who were, ultimately, instrumental in getting Inverloch’s parkrun on the go in 2014. So many participants owe a huge thanks to Les for the role he has played in Launceston and Inverloch’s parkruns.

The appeal of parkrun to Les is its simple concept – all you have to do is turn up on a Saturday morning, it’s free and all you have to bring is your barcode. 

Les said of parkrun, “It’s a good social aspect, particularly when moving to a new area, join your local parkrun and you start to meet people you can run with or just find people you like.”  We couldn’t agree more!

Lea started participating in parkrun on health advice to ‘do something for herself’, after suffering a breakdown approximately seven years ago. As Lea loved to run, parkrun was a perfect choice and she’s not looked back since (except perhaps to see how many participants are trailing behind??).  Her vivacity and love of life bubbles over in conversation.

To Lea’s credit and representative of her community spirit, she has clocked over 100 acts of service as a parkrun volunteer.  Equally impressive, is her taking part in almost 200 parkrun events – the math tells us Lea has run the equivalent of Warragul to Sydney.

Not to be outdone by her Mum, starting on her fourth birthday when she received her barcode, Lea’s daughter holds the record of being the Youngest Junior 10er Worldwide.  That’s something truly special to have attained!

To sum up, Lea says, “I love the group of people we’ve got at Warragul because it’s really so inclusive, yet varied. We’ve got kids, we’ve got families, we’ve got people of varied abilities, we’ve got people I wouldn’t necessarily meet otherwise, which is really cool.”  

We think you are really cool, Lea, and your joy in serving others is such an encouragement.

Whilst Paul is not (yet) a member of parkrun, he has participated in Saturday morning events since settling in Warragul five weeks ago.  Paul has been a bit of a nomad these past five years, travelling Australia with a caravan in tow.

As a result of a motorbike accident 36 years ago, Paul lost a leg and almost his life.  After five months in hospital, the paramedics who attended Paul at the accident site couldn’t believe that he was alive.  Basically, Paul died and with his characteristic humour, said that after being jump-started and having oil put in him, he got better.

Locals regularly sight Paul, with the aid of crutches, traversing the streets, clocking up a remarkable amount of kilometres. Paul’s daughter got him onto the Strava app and so Paul is able to keep track of distances achieved – last week he cracked 36km.

As Paul’s ‘top speed’ is about three kilometres per hour, he jumped the starter’s gun at Saturday’s run by half an hour, calling it, “cheating.” We would call it resourcefulness and having an admirable degree of tenacity.  Hopefully, parkrun are happy to time him in days to come.

Will he officially join parkrun?  Most likely, as it’s free and he only lives 1.2km away!