As we're not able to be together in the park right now, we're running a series of profiles about some of the amazing people that make up our community.
This week our profile is from Sam, one of our Run Directors
If there's someone you'd like to nominate to take part, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
parkrun vital statistics
Number of runs: 143
Number of different parkrun events visited: 12
Number of volunteer stints: 96
How did you first hear about parkrun?
I first heard about parkrun through my brother and sister, who started going for a reason I can’t even remember. Eventually my mum joined them but it wasn’t until my job moved my location to Chelmsford and my friend Joe and I set ourselves a silly challenge to do a triathlon that I started running.
I took a while to decide to go along to parkrun (approx. 6 weeks from my first run) and it took me just over 31 minutes, with stops, but it was the first time I’d run 5k and I’ve been at parkrun almost every week ever since (think I’ve only ever overslept 3 weeks.....) The rest, as they say, is history!
Many people at Billericay might not know that you’ve been on a bit of a fitness journey. Tell us about that.
Well, my weight has more or less yo-yoed my whole life and the last turning point for it was after Isabelle, also known as Squish (who likes to turn up to parkrun most weeks with me and be pushed around by grandma) was born. I took a picture of her with me and I very much disliked what I saw. Combined with the office move I’d just undergone, the opportunity to exercise at lunch in Chelmsford was a much more attractive proposition than it ever was in London and our aforementioned challenge of completing a triathlon, it was the perfect opportunity to do something about it properly.
Over a period of just 6 months I lost a lot of weight and managed to wipe 7 minutes off my best parkrun time completing several triathlons, 10ks and even a half marathon. I never expected to keep it up myself and when I found myself still exercising come the new year I joined the local triathlon club and now sport and exercise is just a part of my life.
Perhaps the best bit was on a visit back to the London office, getting into a lift with a colleague I hadn’t seen since I moved out to Chelmsford and they didn’t recognise me at all, the difference was just that vast! Since then I’ve gone on to complete a marathon and half ironman distance triathlon - I enjoyed the latter much, much more!
What sporting achievements are you most proud of and why?
That’s a difficult one, race wise it’ll be completing the Staffordshire half Ironman last year, it took me just over 6 hours and was the culmination of several hard months of training, none of which I would’ve achieved as successfully as I did without the help and support of my club and club coach Zena.
Outside of races, without a doubt it’ll be the community we have set up at Billericay parkrun, not an individual achievement but an achievement of everyone who turns up to run, walk or volunteer – having been to several parkruns, none have that same feel as Billericay, or should I say, home.
Of the 12 other parkruns you've completed aside from Billericay, any particular favourites and any others you really want to complete?
Apart from Billericay? Am I allowed to choose another? The best thing about parkrun courses is that no two are the same! Every course has its ups and downs (some more than others, Hadleigh...), though I really loved the trips to Barry and Bushy we undertook, one madder than the other.
I look forward to Billericay every week, the ease and simplicity of it makes it more attractive to me, plus like Peter said, the eco-consciousness kicks in a little - though I do look forward to our cancellation for fireworks each year to undertake some mad journey to try somewhere different!
People at Billericay parkrun often talk about the 'Three Hills', but there's more than three from your extended family that support our event. Tell us a little about the family's participation and who has progressed the most?
I still want the original course with the extra hill back! But no, our 3.8 lap course is perfect as it is. We’re pretty much a family of parkrunners now, starting with Lucy and Tom, Mum joined in shortly after, then I started and later Harriet before Dad finally joined in wanting to take part.
Way back when our local parkrun was Chelmsford, it was some sort of military drill to get us all there on time! Now we’ve spread out a bit more, Lucy is spoilt for choice with all her London parkruns, Tom will go up and down the Canterbury hills, Harriet will occasionally wake up before midday to test her student will in Durham, and Mum and Dad are staunch Billericians, Mum you’ll probably have seen pushing my Squish around in her pram (though she turned 4 the week that parkruns were all shut down, so she’ll be running the junior parkrun soon enough!), and Dad is the tail walker supreme!
As for who has progressed the most, that’s not an easy question to answer, in terms of started to current point, you could argue me, having improved by over 10 minutes from my first run, or Lucy (and I suppose Tom) who’ve both run (or in Tom’s case mostly walked) marathons, but I think it’d be fair to say mum who has, just before this all happened, been improving incredibly and even managed to run her first sub 30 recently, though she won’t be happy until it‘s on her parkrun record!
You were a part of Billericay parkrun from the outset, what are your favourite memories from the event?
Favourite memories, well there’s certainly a few, the Barry and Bushy trips are no doubt up there, Halloween number 1, the dinosaur suit, the now infamous Christmas suit, meeting the original core team for the first time and the journey we’ve been on to reach where we are now, but perhaps my favourite memory will always be the ones I get after we close down for the week - they’re always different each week but they speak volumes for what goes on and for everyone who takes part, always brilliantly captured in photos so that even though right now it does feel like only a distant memory, you can almost relive them!
You've volunteered almost 100 times at parkrun - what are your favourite roles and why?
Have I? That’s crept up! Another difficult question, I really enjoy being the run director, seeing everything come together is incredibly rewarding. Barcode scanning is one I really enjoy too, being able to watch people and talk to them (even if some can’t talk back). Timekeeping is one I’ve not done much but was still an enjoyable experience and the stopwatches or the parkrun app are really easy to use! And then there’s marshalling, I love encouraging people to take part and cheer them on with bad jokes, or silly costumes – you never know what I might have planned if I’m on the roster to marshal!
What do you do outside of parkrun stuff?
Outside of parkrun, as previously mentioned, I train and take part in triathlons. I’m also a committee member for the club and in charge of the club league and organising the GoTri events, which are not dissimilar to parkrun in ethos for getting people involved in sport. I also enjoy computer games, currently racking up a lot of hours on Age of Empires 2, it’s only a 20 year old game!
Between leisure I work in insurance for Aon (though don’t ask me about your renewals unless you own a power plant) and spending time with my children, not that they want to spend time with me (who can blame them)!
What are you most looking forward to when we return?
A return to routine! I’m not enjoying the loss of simple daily routine, it’s a small thing but really important and it makes a big difference when you have a routine you follow to so many aspects of day to day life. I’m also, of course, looking forward to the return of the 3.8 lap course, the 5 lap course is great when the 3.8 (normal) lap course is unavailable, but the weather at the start of the year was really against us so it’ll be great to be back “home” so to speak!
Thanks so much to Sam If you'd like to read more, here are the other profiles from this series so far:
If there's someone you'd like to nominate for us to profile, drop us an email at email@example.com
Until next time!
The Billericay core team are:
Please check our Volunteer Roster to see if you are able to help out at anytime, there are plenty of roles available to do and all are rewarding and great fun. If you want to volunteer, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
As well as checking on this site regularly for the latest information and updates, don't forget you can also find us on Facebook.
Why not trade up your paper barcode to some of those snazzy plastic barcodes and wristbands? You can get them at the parkrun barcode website and never worry about soggy paper ones again! ICE details can also be printed on them as well.
If you would like to donate to this parkrun you can find out more HERE