Many of you will appreciate this beautiful, heartfelt story as compiled by one of our fellow Worcestershire club members, Caz Kibble of the Pershore Plum Plodders. It epitomises what parkrun represents and the solidarity that is both within and across our Worcestershire county clubs. Lee Greatbatch, a visually impaired runner from the Pershore Plums, often runs with other club members and Anna Borecka helped him to an amazing half marathon time and PB at Cheltenham on Sunday. (Don’t get me started on the logistics of that race though, as I will go off at a tangent.) It is this genuine love of the sport and the desire to help others share that love that comes across in a lot of what we stand for with our BPJ club ethos.
So what is parkrun? Parkrun is a worldwide free 5km run against the clock and happens every Saturday.
Parkrun.com quote: ‘We organise free weekly timed runs all over the world. Held in pleasant parkland on weekend mornings, our runs are open to all – from juniors and first timers to Olympians and octogenarians.’
*octogenarian – a person who is between 80 and 89 years old (I had to look it up!!! )
Worcester Parkrun is located at Worcester Woods Country Park, (aka the Countryside Centre) and more information can be found here. To enter you have to register and print off a barcode… and yes, I did say it was FREE. It is totally and utterly FREE of charge thanks largely to the fantastic support they receive from their partners. We can’t take responsibility for the money that you will spend on spikes, trail trainers, waterproofs, kit, running vests etc as you become addicted though, but the event itself is, always has been and always will be free, to encourage people to run. No pace restriction, no judgement and all the marshals are volunteers. Take a look at the flickr photos for yourself here. You will probably recognise some people and a lot of BPJ shirts.
Recently parkrun advertised an inspirational story and seeing it, I immediately thought of Caz and her daughter Laura and all of the other people that her story might just inspire. I contacted her to ask her to write a story and submit it to Parkrun. Little did I know how lovely that would be and when I read it for the first time I cried. I have welled up twice more reading it again and I wanted to share it with you as I feel it puts what we do in perspective.
My daughter Laura is 18-years old and has a learning disability. The disability means that her understanding and communications skills are not the same as a normal 18-year old. Laura’s disability is due to her having rare chromosomes, something I discovered she had when she was a year old. Laura’s chromosomes have rearranged themselves to give her an Unbalanced Translocation. When I asked the professionals what I could expect from Laura as she grows up, there were more negatives than positives. Laura’s translocation is unique to her and there is no one else to compare it with and yet, all the things they said she probably wouldn’t do, she can in fact do.
On and off, Laura has been coming with me to Worcester Parkrun and has been standing with a marshal to cheer me on. That, in itself, is a big achievement for Laura, as she has a fear of dogs, and, of course, dogs are very welcome at Parkrun. At our social gathering after the run one Saturday, it was mentioned to Laura that maybe she would like to join in one week. Her face lit up. I remember registering her on the Parkrun website and again her face lit up. he got ever so excited when she saw her name on her barcode. Little did I know that this would end up with me, as her mum, bursting with pride.
I didn’t run with Laura on her first week, as I thought she would get on far better without me. I was nervous for her. I am lucky to be part of the Pershore Plum Plodders and a Parkrun community where we are like one big happy family. A running friend stepped in to run with Laura. At he moment, running on her own isn’t an option, but quite possibly could be one day. Bearing in mind the nearest physical activity Laura has done to a Parkrun is PE and sports day at her old school, this is an incredible step forward. I had no idea how she would get on, but I knew Laura would get round the course as she is full of determination. I ran my usual run, collected my token and ran back to find a smiling Laura and to cheer her in across the finish line.
Laura is approaching her 10th parkrun, 4 of have been PB’s. Never did I think Laura would do one, never mind nearly 10. Every week, come rain or shine, Laura is at the start with a smile on her face. She loves the encouraging words from the marshals and from the faster runners who lap her. A bit of walking, a bit of running and, with the finish in sight, she manages a sprint finish and all still sporting that same beautiful smile. When I see that smile and hear her say: ‘I did it mum,’ I honestly could just burst with pride.
Parkrun is such a confidence boost for Laura and a way for her to meet new people and make friends. It has helped her not to be so afraid of dogs. It is a fun way for her to get some exercise. Her fitness level has already shown signs of improvement. I’m heading towards my 140th Parkrun and together we will be clocking up a few more. We both now look forward to starting our Saturday with Parkrun and I’m sure there are more PB’s to come from Laura.
Written by Caz Kibble, Pershore Plum Plodders
For more information on ParkRun
Parkrun UK information
For more information on Worcester ParkRun click here
If you have a story or just information you would like to submit based on your own experience, challenges, personal achievements or just anything you deem newsworthy about the club or running. Please submit them to: [email protected]