Highbury Fields parkrunner profile – The Berrisford Sweet family


Introducing another one of our fabulous parkrun families; mum Jenny Berrisford, dad Alex Sweet, sons Gregory Berrisford Sweet (age 13) & Theo Berrisford Sweet (age 10). Between them they have done a whole lot of parkrunning & junior parkrunning.

When & where did you start parkrunning (this includes junior parkrunning of course)

Jenny: I started parkrunning in February 2012 at Finsbury Park.

Gregory: I first did a junior parkrun at Highbury Fields in April 2016, aged 8.

Editor's note: Gregory has since completed 102 junior parkruns and 75 parkruns. Theo has not answered the questions but he has completed 44 junior parkruns and 3 adult parkruns.

What prompted you to join parkrun?

Jenny: I’ve always done a bit of running as an adult and in 2011 I had two very young children and was a bit out of shape. It sounded like a really good idea so I gave it a try.

Gregory: I wanted to do some long distance running and my parents already did it. They took me along most weeks to the adult Finsbury Park parkrun, so I was used to the atmosphere.

What did you think after your first parkrun?

Jenny: I remember being pleasantly surprised to enjoy running in a large group and I enjoyed the atmosphere. I also remembered thinking ‘this could be a really good routine for me to get into’.

Gregory: At first junior parkrun was quite tough and for several months I was quite slow but then I really started to improve. I felt exhausted but proud of myself. I had to do the adult parkrun with my mum until I was 11. For the first few times I slowed her down but it changed quite quickly and she started to slow me down, so sometimes I ran with my Dad.

What’s your most memorable parkrun?

Jenny: I have a few. My 100th was lovely and so was the time my son and husband did their 50th together and I volunteered. I think getting a great PB (a few years ago now) was pretty memorable too. I got into a bit of a competition with a guy running near me and we shook hands afterwards and I thanked him for pushing me towards a PB. I also enjoyed running with Gregory when he was under 11, as he really helped me to improve my times.

I have also particularly enjoyed watching Gregory improve. Seeing him race neck and neck for first place on a few occasions has been really exciting. Editor's note: yes, yes, we all know it's not a race but we also know that quite often we have our own personal races going on in our heads.

Gregory: My Grandma’s 250th parkrun. We all went to Hampstead Heath, her regular parkrun and did a great parkrun as a whole family, before going to the café for croissants and a 250 cake afterwards.

250 collage

What do you like most about parkrun?

Jenny: I love the community spirit and catching up with friends and fellow runners. I also like the fact that, for me, it’s an excuse to push myself to run a bit faster. It’s also a great reason to get up on a Saturday morning.

Gregory: My favourite thing about parkrun is probably the adrenalin rush in the last section; when you know it’s a PB, it drives you to keep on running and victoriously glide through the finish line.

Volunteering at parkrun - your thoughts?

Jenny: I enjoy volunteering. I’ve done lots of junior parkrun volunteering and I do more adult volunteering now that Gregory is old enough to run unsupervised. I think it’s an important role and very rewarding. I’ve volunteered a couple of times on Christmas Day at Finsbury Park and that has been great fun. My kids also enjoy helping out and that gives me a good feeling!

Gregory: I love volunteering and making the runs possible for everyone else, but I also love running them. So my favourite scenario is joining in with the scanners/finishing token sorters when I finish junior parkrun before the majority of other junior parkrunners have come through the finishing funnel. I also sometimes help to manage the funnel at Finsbury Park parkrun – it was pretty busy before lockdown!

Collage vol

How are you all coping without parkrun?

Jenny: I am missing it a lot. During the first lockdown I didn’t do very much running at all (but I did do a lot of Joe Wicks workouts!). In the last few months I have managed to get my running game back and I go out with a friend or one of my sons 2 or 3 times a week.

Gregory: I think I have missed the exercise and I have definitely missed the people. I can’t wait to get started again. I have done some running and track sessions on my own and with friends.

Any other thoughts?

Jenny: I am so looking forward to returning to parkrun in a post-Covid world. It means a lot to us as a family and we have other family members and friends for whom it is an important social event.

Gregory: I just really hope I can do junior parkrun a few last times before I’m too old!