Adele Prince tell us about the various ways you can get involved nearby, including parkrun, junior parkrun and GoodGym.
On September 14th we will be celebrating seven years of parkrun in Hilly Fields. I can say for sure that
being part of this incredible event has changed my life and widened my community immensely. In
those seven years, around 8,000 different people have taken part, just in our local park! These might
be regulars, who come as often as they can, or visitors, checking out our beautifully undulating
course whilst in the area.
You might wonder how it works, how much it costs and whether you need to be ‘fast’. It’s very
simple. It’s free to join in and take part, just register at www.parkrun.org.uk, printing off your unique
barcode, to bring along. Meet at the start point by the cafe on Saturdays at 9am and walk, jog or run
a timed 5km course. When you cross the finish line you are handed a plastic token, you take this,
along with your own barcode, to be scanned and will receive your stats by text or email later in the
day. If you are worried about being last, then don’t be, we have a tail walker, allowing you to go at
your own pace and making sure nobody is left behind. The events are run entirely by volunteers and
new helpers are always welcome!
If you have a family member or friend who is aged 4-14, then we have an event especially for them on a Sunday morning, meeting near the Hilly Fields café/Stone Circle at 9am. Again, they will need to print off their barcode to run or walk our 2km junior parkrun course. You can still join in as an adult, accompanying your child (though don’t run through the finish area, this moment of glory is for kids only!). With the event being for children, we need lots of volunteers to be our eyes and ears out on
the course, so do get in touch if you want to help out, it’s a lovely way to start your Sunday.
Our parkruns are very friendly, welcoming everyone to enjoy the space in their own way. You might
feel nervous if stepping up for the first time, but the support from volunteers and fellow participants
is just amazing. After the run, many of us head to the café, where the Run Director processes the
results and everyone catches up. We often celebrate milestones, with commitment to taking part
being rewarded with t-shirts for the 5k event and wristbands for the juniors (this usually involves
cakes, biscuits and lots of bunting).
If you want to combine your activity with helping in the community, then you might like to come
along to GoodGym Lewisham. We meet at Glass Mill on a Monday evening at 6.45pm. We run as a
group, to charities and community spaces to help with a physical task. Quite often these tasks might
not get done, or would take a great deal longer, without our input. As with parkrun, you might
wonder if you’ll be able to keep up, but we run at a conversational pace, regrouping at crossings and
have a back-marker to keep everyone together. You should also remember that our runs are broken
up by the task in the middle, so plenty of time to get your breath back! On our return leg, if we have
time, we have a short fitness session, where those who want to can push themselves a little harder
(this is always very playful and suitable for all). All this fits neatly into ninety minutes, aiming to
return to Glass Mill for 8.30pm.
Alongside our group runs, you can join in at other times, through ‘coach running’ or ‘missions’. You can be paired with an older, often isolated, person nearby for a weekly visit – we call these people our coaches, because they get us out for a run when we might not feel like it! I visited an older lady
for around two years and we used to look forward to our chats, watching a bit of daytime TV and talking about her life growing up in Jamaica. At a GoodGym mission, we visit an older person in their home, to help with something that might be affecting their quality of life. This might be tackling an overgrown garden, or something seemingly as simple as changing a lightbulb. You will be with at least one other person at a mission and will receive online training beforehand. To find out more about our work locally and throughout the UK (we are now in over 50 areas!), visit www.goodgym.org.
I do hope you feel inspired to join in, either at parkrun, junior parkrun or GoodGym. I have found my
own involvement has given me increased fitness, a greater knowledge of what’s going on in the
area, a sense of wellbeing at helping my community but, most of all, a group of friends of all ages
that I might not have met otherwise. Come and say hi!