Family Parkrun: A Journey of Bonding and Well-being

With a toddler and a newborn in tow, my partner and I embarked on a mission to make it to the starting line of our local parkrun by 9 AM. Our pre-dawn frenzy consisted of gathering running gear, nappies, wipes, snacks, and more. Strapping our toddler into our all-terrain buggy and snuggling our sleeping newborn against my chest, we made it just in time. Despite the sleepless nights, the crisp morning air and supportive atmosphere were exhilarating. Familiar faces greeted us at the starting line, their smiles and nods a testament to our shared weekly ritual.

As the run director signaled the start, we set off. Before children, parkrun was an occasional indulgence, hindered by late nights and a lack of motivation to rise early. However, with our first son, Fabian, we found ourselves awake and eager to venture out on Saturday mornings. We purchased a running buggy and, at six months, introduced him to parkrun. Since then, we’ve logged countless Saturday morning runs, alternating who pushes the buggy.

Parkrun has had a transformative impact on our family. It provides a much-needed endorphin boost after sleepless nights and a sense of accomplishment regardless of how challenging parenting might have felt that day. We’ve experienced it all: mid-run snack breaks, emergency potty stops, and even an extra lap in search of a lost toy car. We’ve run in all weather conditions, even on Christmas and New Year’s Day. My partner even took our son to parkrun on our wedding day.

During my pregnancy, I continued to participate, opting to walk instead of run. It was a bittersweet moment when my puffing partner and giggling toddler overtook me mid-course. Despite the challenges, parkrun remained a cherished family tradition. Our son knows Saturday mornings mean parkrun and has become friendly with the volunteers. He beams at the marshals and insists on a babyccino as a post-run treat.

This year, Metro has partnered with parkrun to bring a series of inspiring stories. From personal journeys to community initiatives, these stories showcase how parkrun empowers, inspires, and supports mental health and societal cohesion.

Ultimately, beyond being a weekend activity, we believe parkrun instills in our children an understanding of the importance of non-competitive exercise, community, and family time. We hope it fosters a positive approach to physical activity, one that values enjoyment over speed. The fact that we participate together as a family makes it all the more special.

Perhaps it was this shared experience that made walking a lap with our second son so meaningful. It was a rite of passage for our youngest and an opportunity for our eldest to share his love of parkrun with his new sibling. The fact that parkrun, a free event organized by volunteers, can create such powerful moments speaks to its enduring magic.

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