66 weeks ago, on Saturday 25th August 2018, Goalball UK launched a campaign to get members more active by encouraging them to take part in a weekly 5 kilometre walk, jog or run at their local parkrun event. ‘parkrun to the Paralympics’ carried the idea that members of Goalball UK could combine their individual 5 kilometres to reach the total distance from Sheffield (home of Goalball UK) to Tokyo (Home of the 2020 Paralympics) within 2 years.
One person who took up this challenge was Chris Payne of the Derbyshire Ducks Goalball Club. Prior to the 25th of August 2018, Chris had already completed 31 parkruns since he was first introduced to the events in February 2017. Chris is totally blind and at 61 years old, he is the oldest member of the Derbyshire Ducks, but his age and visual impairment has not stopped him from regularly completing his 5 kilometres each and every weekend. Last weekend, on Saturday 23rd November, Chris completed his 100th parkrun and his journey to 100 came with a consecutive streak of 72 Saturdays plus an extra event on Christmas Day morning and two separate events on New Year’s Day morning.
Although Chris knew the morning of his 100th event was going to be special, he did not know that his family and his local parkrun organisers (in Poolsbrook) had prepared a few surprises for him. He knew he would be joined at the event by his wife (Teresa), who would also be completing her 50th parkrun and 50th volunteering (as tail walker) alongside him as well as his oldest son (Michael) and youngest daughter (Robyn). But his first surprise upon arriving at the start line, was to find that an additional 11 members of his family had arrived to celebrate his achievement. All but 2 family members would complete the parkrun with Chris including 3 first time parkrunners.
His second surprise came during the pre-run briefing. In September, Leeds Building Society commissioned 15 golden batons to commemorate 15 years of parkrun. These batons set off from Woodhouse Moor parkrun in Leeds with the goal of touring parkrun events in the UK before touring parkrun events around the world. At the end of the pre-run briefing, the race director announced that a golden baton was at Poolsbrook that weekend and that Chris had been selected as the parkrunner to carry the baton.
Chris crossed the finish line with Teresa and their oldest daughter (Sam) in 1 hour 15 minutes and 25 seconds which was slightly outside Chris’ average finish time of 1 hour 4 minutes and 14 seconds. More information is available on the Poolsbrook parkrun facebook page.
Chris’ story is evidence to all that no matter your age, no matter your level of sight and no matter your pace, parkrun is an activity for everyone.