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The community-based organisation, Parkrun, has Dr Caitlin Davey of Diamond Valley Veterinary Hospitals in Eltham, VIC, out and about at 8am every Saturday.
“I started running while I was in vet school to have some time away from studying. I’ve always loved hiking and have walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. While I’ve never been a competitive runner, I have taken part in a few half marathons. I’m happy to just finish a run—it’s always been about having fun.
“I worked in Essex in the UK for five years and this is where I was introduced to Parkrun by a fellow vet. It’s a community-based run that takes place in different countries around the world. It’s run by volunteers and is a not-for-profit organisation where you run or walk a five-kilometre course in which you are timed.
“It’s a great way to spend a Saturday morning. You often see the same groups of people and it’s a fantastic way to get to know your local community. It can be a small group of people that turn up but our local run at Westerfolds Park usually had 200 or more runners pre-COVID. It has an amazing feel and everyone is very encouraging of new runners and walkers. There’s no pressure to go fast; it’s more important to just be involved. They celebrate milestones such as getting to 50 or 100 Parkruns and you get a T-shirt to commend your involvement.
“While pregnant, I stopped running so I volunteered as a Parkrun official and it opened my eyes to another aspect of the experience. I enjoyed being a volunteer almost as much as taking part in the actual run. You can volunteer to be a tail walker, in which you walk behind the last person to ensure that everyone finishes safely. You can also help time people or give out the tokens that assist in determining each entrant’s run time.
“The runs can be very scenic and a great way to see different parts of your local area. The run near Eltham often has kangaroos nearby in the morning. We’ve also done runs along the Yarra and by the beach near Torquay. Everyone I have encouraged to come along has enjoyed the experience and usually continues to participate.
“Any vets who have a new job in a new area might want to give it a try. It’s a great way to meet some of the local people and get involved in the new community. You can even bring along your dog to join you!”
For more information about Parkrun visit: parkrun.com.au