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From the Head's Study - To Run, To Walk, To Volunteer - something for everyone

06 March 2020

From the Head's Study - To Run, To Walk, To Volunteer - something for everyone.

In the days when group punishments were de rigueur I recall one that backfired as far as our teachers were concerned.  An early morning run for everyone in my dormitory, for some misdemeanour lost in the mists of time, became a regular fixture as we realised it was quite fun to get up and out before breakfast to chat, laugh and jog our way around the perimeter of the school.

parkrun is another example of exercise that has morphed and grown from humble beginnings and with unexpected benefits.  13 friends in a park in London agreeing to meet each week as a social run in 2004 has expanded to weekly events in 20 countries, 575 of them in the UK with, last Saturday, over 124,000 people taking part.

The premise is simple. parkrun is and always will be: weekly, free, 5km, for everyone, forever.  With events growing, a Junior parkrun was introduced in 2013 guided by the same principles, this time for 4 to 14 year olds and a shorter distance of 2km on a Sunday morning.

What have evolved are remarkable, community-based events provided at no cost and run entirely by volunteers.  Add to this that parkrun brings people to the great outdoors whatever the weather and season and, with all that we know about the huge benefits of giving to others, getting closer to nature and the importance of belonging, it is fair to say that parkrun has been revolutionary in its impact on fitness but also, and here is the unexpected spin off, mental health.

Best of all this is not a race – it is a community event that is overtly inclusive for all. You can run or walk it or volunteer in one of many roles from car parking attendant to time keeper to newcomer welcomes and announcements.  One volunteer’s role is to be the ‘tail walker’ so no one is ever lost or last. Often dressed up to emphasise the inclusive, fun nature of parkrun, the Weymouth tailwalker wears, appropriately for the Jurassic coast, a tyrannosaurus rex tail. This is one of many ways parkrun breaks down barriers to involvement in exercise.

So – a call to action.  The Girls’ School Association is encouraging as many of its members as possible, us included, to get stuck in to their local parkrun during the month of March. Especially this weekend as we celebrate International Women’s Day. I hope your daughters came back from Monday’s assembly not only telling you about me tripping over the lectern and sending my computer and notes flying, but also my exhortation for as many of us as possible to join one of our two local parkruns over the coming weekends.   

All you need to do is register on the parkrun website and print out your unique barcode. Take this along with you for a 9am start on either Saturday at Claverton Down or Sunday at Odd Down. We will be tallying House Points from all our girls across the School who take part in whatever capacity over the coming month so that we can crown our winning parkrun House at the end of the term.

Mrs Kate Reynolds
Catch up on Kate’s previous blogs
HappinessCuriosityMusic - the food of love?A Time for Everything / Success / Reading / Sustainability

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