Since 1996, Achilles Sydney has provided people with disabilities the opportunity to take regular exercise in in safe, accessible surroundings. Weekly training sessions have been boosted with regular participation in many community events. Today, the Club’s calendar includes at least one community event per month.
The first email was to the point: “Please understand that if it is raining on Saturday, I will not be walking at my local parkrun.” A second email concerning a different park run read: “This is the message I didn't want to have to send. Cancelling parkrun tomorrow. So sorry.”
A few days later, the Bureau of Meteorology website was to proclaim, “Persistent rain brings wettest March since 1975.” And, with a touch of pride only to be found in professional weather-watches, the Bureau published a table that showed which Sydney areas had suffered their heaviest rainfall in twenty years. It was a long list.
It seemed that we had decided to increase our involvement with parkrun at precisely the wrong moment. But we need not have worried; Saturday April 1st turned out to be one those wonderful Sydney autumn days, with clear blue skies with coolish temperatures.
Although members of the Achilles clubs in Canberra and Melbourne had regularly run and walked at their local parkruns, only a handful of Achilles Sydney members were regular attendees at parkrun. The Club saw that parkrun was a natural fit with Achilles. Both organisations had been born out of a zeal to promote healthy, sociable community exercise. Both organisations were powered by the enthusiasm of volunteers.
On April 1st, whether running in under 30 minutes or walking in just over an hour, our visually impaired entrants were united in their enthusiasm for their parkrun experience.
Charlie at Willoughby: Enjoyed it. All participants seemed to welcome each other, whether they had just met or known each other for months. Little was said about my vision impairment; I was just another parkrunner. I will be heading to my local parkrun soon.
Zhila at St Peters: Yes; the parkrun was a fantastic experience for me. Sydney Park is very close to my home and provides an additional run or option to my Sunday Achilles run, which is really great but I which I cannot always attend.
Daniel at St Peters: I really enjoyed participating in the run. It is a great motivation to train and build on this first parkrun.
Nick and Heather [with guidedog Zep] at Menai: Zep had a fabulous time as there were a few other dogs that he wanted to play with. The organisers provided Heather with someone to assist her and Zep to walk the course. She was very happy with that person. It was an enjoyable morning and really nice to have something close to home.
The Achilles guides were equally enthusiastic and are keen to assist at parkrun events throughout Sydney when required.
Achilles and parkrun organisations started small and were built with the determination to help people to turn up and have a go. Their shared ideals have led them to sharing parklands. We look forward to growing our participation at local parkruns.
Our mission is to enable people from all walks of life, including those with physical impairments, to enjoy the health giving benefits of walking and running in a supportive, social and encouraging environment.