On Saturday 19 August, The National Lottery, UK Sport and parkrun UK are inviting the nation to join Britain’s top athletes at #teamparkrun events across the UK.
Over 630 parkruns (5k) and junior parkruns (2k) take place every weekend across the UK, and are a free, sociable and highly accessible way for everyone to take their first steps towards a more active lifestyle, whether they choose to walk, jog, run or volunteer the first time they go along.
Ahead of the big day of celebration we catch up with Terry Brown, a British Triathlon Member and duathlon specialist to find out more about how he got involved in parkrun as both a competitor and volunteer, in addition to the part it played in his journey to being selected for the Great Britain Age-Group team.
How did you first get involved in duathlon?
Less than a decade ago I had just returned from a holiday in Cyprus and having overindulged on the hospitality of the hotel restaurant I was persuaded to get on the scales by my wife. Having been fit and active into my early 20’s I got a bit of a shock at the realisation I’d slipped into such an unhealthy lifestyle and was also diagnosed with the early stages of osteoarthritis in both knees.
I started by looking at my diet and developed a keen interest in understanding nutrition, which resulted in me enrolling on a diploma course. As the weight began to drop off my son Nathan, a cycle mechanic, then encouraged me to begin cycling as a form of exercise and I was instantly hooked. It was the beginning off me taking on a number a big cycling events with my son including the Norwich 100 mile sportive and a 24 hour ride at Brands Hatch.
I was always looking for a new challenge and came across the British Triathlon Age-Group qualifiers and having never been the strongest swimmer I decided I would have a go at duathlon.
Where does parkrun link into your journey?
As mentioned I had a few knee problems and so the local parkrun in Salisbury was a chance for me to just start running again at a gentle jogging pace. I alternated weeks between marshalling and running and steadily began to find myself improving. Saturday mornings soon became a ‘bedrock’ of my training as I geared up to entered the ETU age-group qualifier at Bedford Autodrome from which I was selected for the age-group team.
What do you find rewarding about volunteering?
As part of the marshal team at the Salisbury park run I’ve been regularly inspired by seeing the effort of all those taking part and joy on the faces of finishers. This year I’ve also began volunteering as a pacemaker and it is really rewarding to be able to help others targeting a new PB.
I hope that what I have achieved in the past few years, going from obese truck driver to being a GB Age-Group Duathlete encourages them as much as they continue to encourage me.
How have you seen parkrun grow over recent times?
I have gone from seeing Salisbury start up with less than 100 runners turning up to seeing in just two years that growing to a regular 500 plus runners (and walkers). The atmosphere, with up to 36 volunteers each week, regardless of the weather (including a group of cheerers with loud plastic clappy hands and tambourines) is exceptional.
We have been blessed with a local council who have seen the positive effects that the Saturday parkrun and mid-week training groups are so supportive and it just shows that behind the scenes of this wonderful event are so many hard working, encouraging and supportive people.
Inspired to walk, jog, run or volunteer? Everyone is welcome! Join #teamparkrun on Sat 19 August across the nation where National Lottery funded athletes will be right behind you. Find out more at www.teamparkrun.com