Vicar's Letter - 17.10

   Vicar’s Letter – Good People Make a Difference

Good news can be hard to find these days. Yet I literally stumbled across a good news story this summer that has cheered me up. It concerns an event called parkrun that has been growing for the last 13 years and is a sign that when good people get together the outcomes can be spectacular.

As I tell this story you need to know that I do not like running. However the rest of my family enjoy this activity and I decided it was time I joined in. So one morning in July, with my two daughters and my wife, I turned up at Brockenhurst College along with exactly 100 other people to complete my first run. All sorts of people and all ages were there and I soon discovered the dismay of seeing a ten year-old speed past me off into the distance.

Parkrun is the name given to a collection of five kilometer running events that now take place every Saturday morning in fifteen countries across five continents. It started as a simple timed run in a London park in 2004. That has grown to 468 different events each week across the UK alone. There are now over 2 million runners around the world joining in. One key thing to understand is that each and every event is supported by volunteers. Every run is free of charge. They are safe and easy to join in with. The infrastructure is all supported by sponsors and this allows each runner to have a unique identification barcode which gives online data sent by email to each person for the events they have run.

I just love the way that a good idea, supported by technology that is put to good use, can bring people together to stay fit and healthy. There are T Shirts to show how many runs you have completed which are given out free. At Brockenhurst there are several dedicated runners who are in the 100 club and even the odd 250 shirt but in the world there are only a handful of people who have made the 500 club.

There might be lots of different reasons for joining in.  Apart from just staying fit there are parents who run with their children, some pushing them in buggies. Some run as part of training for other events. While others do it to beat their own personal best time as often as they can. It is also about being part of a community keeping up with others who help you to get round the course. The key is that it is a simple idea, easily multiplied, and it happens because people work together.

So many stories reported in the news show us the worst side of human nature. It’s good to find an event that runs by seeking to serve one another and the common good. On that first run I came 86th, last in my family and my legs ached for three days. Now I am pleased to say that my times are improving and I recommend this event to everyone.                                   Neil

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