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A parkrun Story – If I can do it, YOU can too!

Written for Sleekgeek by Marianne Grobler:

The first time I heard the term “parkrun”, was on a facebook message from Minessa. I had been on the Sleek Girls Facebook Group and reboot for about 6 weeks at that stage, and loved chatting to everyone about Reboot recipes; BUT stayed decidedly quiet whenever anyone mentioned anything  to do with exercise of any form! Being a very inactive and overweight girl, the last time I had done any form of exercise was when I was about 23 (so, 22 years ago!). I would huff and puff just walking from my front door to my car, so any form of formal exercise was, in my mind, totally off limits. It was one of those things that I would “get around to” one fine, thinner day. Anyway, I was all chirpy that evening, on the 10th April, and all of a sudden I see this message in my inbox. It went like this….

(typing it up word for word)

Minessa: M pls join us for parkrun on Saturday!!! We’re looking forward to meeting you

[at this stage, I just looked at the two words park run and hit a serious panic!]

Me: hi Minessa, I would DIE if I had to run!!! Am seriously unfit! I haven’t started exercising yet.

[I thought, this girl clearly doesn’t know what she is suggesting here. She clearly doesn’t know exactly how unfit I am, or she wouldn’t be asking me]

Minessa: No running hunny we’re just walking together!!!! And coffee after

Me [hitting an absolute flat panic by this stage]: oooooooooooooooohhhh ok. I thought it was a RUN. How far is the walk? Do other reallllllly unfit people do the walks too? Or would i be the sad bunny 10 years behind everyone?

[I thought that at this stage, Minessa would say something like ‘oh ok’ and let me be, but NO!]

Minessa: No hunny every fitness level joins. Its really more about meeting each other. Would really love to meet you.

[I was seriously torn here. Panicked about the thought of walking more than 5 metres, yet strangely drawn to meet people off the group, as I am curious by nature and was growing to really like the online personalities in the group. I was in such a panic, that I seriously couldn’t think of an excuse not to go, so I responded….]

Me: ok coooool. Just don’t want to be the runt of the litter as I am reaaaaaally unfit, but have to start somewhere!! I am also really wanting to meet up. What park is it at?

Minessa: Modderfontein. Check out the event in the group hun x

And so began the next adventure on my road to “healthy-me”.  I went to Modderfontein that Saturday and then chickened out of doing the actual trail, as I was scared I would collapse and die (seriously). Funny though, Minessa told me to stay for coffee – and in the end we walked around 4km anyway, as the distance from the car park to coffee and then back was quite far! I then thought, oh ok – I can do 4km, so I may as well do the trail. The following weekend, I trudged off to Bryanston parkrun, again in a panic! I found the Sleeks and Roxanne and Nicci walked with me. Every. Step. Of. The. Way. From a km in, I thought I would die. BUT I didn’t! From 2km in, I wanted to cry. BUT I didn’t! It took every ounce of my strength to put one foot in front of the other and walk that trail, but I actually did…. With encouragement every step of the way from Roxanne and Nicci. When I finally finished (the time keepers were long gone) I just burst out crying, as I could not believe what I had achieved!

Marianne and Elan

Pictured: Sleekgeek founder Elan walking with Marianne at the Modderfontein parkrun in Johannesburg

Since then, I have gone to the parkrun/walks every Saturday (6 so far), besides twice when I was flu-ish and it is now part of my weekly routine. It is the BEST thing ever to be part of such a supportive, happy, positive, caring group of people, and someone is always more than willing to walk with me. I still always come last, but I proudly own my last status while it still lasts!! If anyone had told me 10 weeks ago that I would be walking minimum 5km at a stretch, I would have told them they have the wrong person! It has been a life changer. I feel much more energetic, am getting fitter for the first time in decades, and have made some lovely new friendships with special people. My body is taking on a better shape than from eating properly alone, and I am way more positive and cheerful from all the healthy fresh air and serotonin that exercise releases. To anyone out there who thinks they just can’t do it – Please just give it a chance! If I can, anyone can!!

See you ALL on Saturday!

Marianne Grobler



This could not be possible without the leadership and enthusiasm of some of our community leaders in those regions who have stepped up as volunteers to organise and coordinate people.

Your fearless regional leaders are listed below. Simply click on a region name to join the dedicated event group for your region on Facebook.

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