Today I had the pleasure of meeting someone that I have known about for many years and he turned out to be everything I hoped and more. Paul Sinton-Hewitt single handedly launched parkrun with one event in Bushy Park over a decade ago. He now oversees an organisation with 806 events (as of today) all around the world. Collectively since the first parkrun in 2004, the participants have run 67,000,000km.
This is a seriously impressive organisation that is having a huge impact on running participation all around the world.
And yet Paul is one of the most humble people you could ever hope to meet. Over a coffee today, he told me about his story (which I am hopeful will appear in a future edition of Like the Wind, so keep you eyes peeled for that) and the passion for running that drives him and his team to continue to deliver something so simple that it is easy to underestimate the huge amount of logistics and organisation required.
It really fills me with joy and hope when I meet people like Paul. He is doing something really important and yet there is a lightness and happiness that I am sure contributes to the success. If you are in any doubt of the importance and wonderfulness of parkrun, I urge you to get up on Saturday and go to your local event. You can register on the website if you need to (it is free to register and to run in any of the parkruns), so that your time will be recorded. But perhaps more importantly than time, I recommend that you just go and see what the phenomenon is all about (or, if like me, you are lapsed, go this Saturday to remind yourself about what parkrun is all about).
Certainly I think that the world is better because of Paul; his ideas, his openness and his passion. May there be many more Paul Sinton-Hewitts – we really need them.