How A Walk Opened Up A Love For Exercise


Meet Kerstin Marshall a regular runner at Wallace parkrun in Lisburn. We were so inspired by her story that we couldn't wait to share it with you.

"It was my husband who first introduced me to Walk @ parkrun. He really enjoyed parkrun having been introduced to running by his Personal Trainer. 

One day he told me, that Wallace parkrun had started Walk @ parkrun and were encouraging walkers to come along and take part...I was reluctant. Due to several surgeries on my hips and right knee as a teenager, I was never very fond of sports and running was what I hated the most. The only exercise I ever enjoyed was cycling, but after moving from Germany to Northern Ireland in 1993, I gave up cycling as I didn't feel comfortable cycling on the roads here.

My husband registered me for my barcode, which was the encouragement I needed to give it ago. In May 2017 I came along to Walk @ parkrun for the first time. My first walk wasn’t very fast…I remember feeling a bit embarrassed. I didn’t know any of the other walkers and the runners were far ahead. I completed the course and decided to keep going! The volunteers at Wallace parkrun were so welcoming and friendly creating such a nice and encouraging atmosphere.

I gradually walked faster and faster and loved getting Personal Best times (PB’s). I also started to feel much fitter. Slowly I began to run parts of the course and every week I managed to run that little bit further and to walk that little bit less. I really enjoyed the progress I made and the parkrun Community was incredibly supportive and encouraging!

On New Year’s Day this year, my husband and I took part in the Antrim parkrun as there was no New Year’s parkrun in Lisburn. It was raining quite heavily but for the first time ever! I managed to run the entire 5k. I was elated! It was the best feeling ever! Best Way to start the New Year! I have since managed to complete a few parkruns at Wallace Park; running the entire 5k…Even uphill!

I am immensely proud of my progress. I might not be a fast runner, but I am enjoying my pace and I always feel great afterwards; even though it’s tough at times. I am 52. I used to hate walking and I would have never thought I could become a runner. Yet I did. And I love it! It’s increased my fitness levels and it’s definitely great for my mental health. I feel good about myself. So far, I have only ran at Wallace Park in Lisburn and in Antrim. I have completed 27 ‘Walk @ parkruns’ and runs and volunteered 3 times.

My goal for this year is to run as many parkruns in Northern Ireland as I can. I am particularly looking forward to attending the portrush parkrun which takes place on the beach. I am also aiming to run my first parkrun in Germany in May. On Home turf in Mannheim Neckarau and hopefully one day also in Berlin Hasenheide.

I can highly recommend coming along to ‘Walk @ parkrun’. It’s such a great community and no matter where you walk, run or jog- people are lovely and supportive. Go and give it a Go! You’ll love it!"