Login | Text size A A A | Text version

Marathon man’s parkrun challenge

Marathon man’s parkrun challenge

It's the NHS' 70th birthday this year, on 5 July. To celebrate, there are lots of activities taking place around the UK and at MCH we want to get involved too. Chris Gedge, aka Marathon Man, thinks he knows the best way to celebrate and get fit at the same time…

As we all know the NHS is 70 this year and what better way to celebrate it than to go out for a run, more specifically a parkrun.

As you will probably know I am a runner, a keen runner, some may say a crazy runner, but over all a parkrun runner.

What is parkrun you say? Well firstly I’m surprised you don’t know and that you haven’t heard me talking about it!

parkrun organise free, weekly 5k timed runs around the world. They are open to everyone, free and are safe and easy to take part in. All you need to do is register online, print off your barcode and turn up and go. It started some 14years ago with a group of 13 friends who liked to have fun and run round Bushy park in London and has grown into a global phenomenon!

parkrun is a run, not a race. Its ethos is all about inclusivity and simplicity. People from all backgrounds and levels of fitness turn up every Saturday at 9am to walk, jog, run, push their buggies or walk their dog round a 5k route. The emphasis is most definitely about having fun and getting fitter at the same time. I often use the term "social running” as it’s about becoming part of a much wider social community. For those that don’t run or can’t run for whatever reason there is the great opportunity to volunteer too, whether that be the official time keeper (a big responsibility!) or simply a marshal that cheers and claps everyone across the line. Whether you run or volunteer you always feel that sense of achievement afterwards.

Recently Dame Kelly Holmes (who I had the pleasure of meeting and running with at Maidstone parkrun) has launched an initiative to get the nation active by promoting parkrun in the year the NHS is 70 by having a celebratory "NHS parkrun” on Saturday 9 June 2018.

The NHS parkrun is being organised to encourage new participants, including NHS staff and volunteers, to come along to their local parkrun to recognise the contribution of the National Health Service to the health of the nation.

The growing levels of obesity in adults and children is a major health issue for the NHS, as it can lead to a number of serious and potentially life-threatening conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, some types of cancer and stroke. Obesity can also affect quality of life and lead to psychological problems.

The cost to the NHS of treating diabetes alone is around £10 billion every year – nearly 10% of the NHS budget. It is estimated that obesity is responsible for more than 30,000 deaths each year and that obesity could overtake tobacco smoking as the biggest cause of preventable death.

In August 2017, parkrun conducted a UK-wide survey of almost 2,000 healthcare professionals. Over three in every five (63%) responding revealed that they prescribe parkrun in some form, while almost nine in ten (88%) said they would consider referring users to parkrun.

Surprisingly to some I have only been running for the last 4 years but am about to complete my 200th parkrun and as you can tell absolutely love it! I find it a great way to stay active, keep fit and it is definitely good for the mind and as you all know working in the NHS can be very stressful at times! parkrun has definitely been the making of me as a runner and enabled me to go on to bigger distances like half marathons and even a full blown marathon which I never thought I would do. In 2016, I ran the London Marathon for our Medway Cares charity and raised over £2000 which was phenomenal. We spent some of this money to support the local Gillingham (Great Lines) parkrun with a defibrillator and some basic life support training for their volunteers.

Saturday often gets referred to as "parkrun day” in my household and is a great way to start off your weekend and I would actively encourage and most definitely challenge you to turn up - you’ll be hooked trust me!

As part of MCH’s commitment to supporting health and wellbeing initiatives, I would most definitely support parkrun as a way of achieving this and thoroughly recommend you take up my challenge of doing one parkrun and go to the NHS parkrun on Saturday 9 June.

parkrun has events across the whole of Kent at Maidstone, Ashford, Gillingham, Gravesend, Sittingbourne and Dartford so look it up and go along. Just remember Don’t Forget Your Barcode! #DFYB!

Good luck and I look forward to seeing you at an event soon!

Marathon Man aka Chris Gedge

For further details on parkrun and how to register visit the parkrun website: http://www.parkrun.org.uk/