Azara Storm Chittock probably deserves a news item purely for her wonderful name with its Persian and medieval English origins but it is her dedication to parkrun that has brought her to notice by runABC South. After all, there cannot be many girls her age who have completed 28 parkruns, volunteered 13 times and even been a shadow Run Director.
Azara has improved her parkrun PB by six minutes since making her debut at Brockenhurst in May 2016 (31:37). Conditions that day were poor but the lashing rain and slippery grass only stiffened her resolve and she has since improved to a best of third place (25:40) at her home event of Lymington Woodside in the New Forest in March this year.
Azara was only nine when she completed her first parkrun with her mother but her inspiration was taken from supporting family and friends at Bushy parkrun when she was much younger. In fact she ran in one of the earliest junior parkruns but has little memory of the occasion as she explains: “My only memory is of crossing the finish line with everyone else cheering for me when I came in as the final finisher!”
Another significant milestone came in March 2015 when Azara supported her family at Hagley Park Christchurch, New Zealand parkrun on the morning of her mum and step-dad's wedding. Back home she first volunteered with her mum at Brockenhurst, later progressing to her local event at Lymington where her duties have included deputising as Run Director at Lymington's first anniversary event.
Azara is equally comfortable in the hi-viz or her running kit and she has this advice for anyone of any age thinking of giving parkrun a try: “I’d say do it: it doesn’t matter how fast you are, you’re faster than all the people who haven’t got out of bed. I’m pretty sure that, like me, you’ll make friends and enjoy yourself. You’ll feel a million times better too for making the effort”.
Azara is particularly keen to encourage teenage girls to consider the benefits of a Saturday morning health boost and she has recently shared this advice with the parkrun community: “Sometimes girls think it’s not cool and they believe that all that is important is appearance. But the thing is running is cool; it’s great for you in fact. It helps you stay fit, helps you to concentrate, puts you in a good mood, introduces you to new people and gives you stamina to achieve lots of different things. Okay, it might sometimes give you a red face, but that’s nothing compared with the benefits. And I’d rather have a red face than not run at all!”
If you would like a red face (it won't last long) visit the parkrun website
to find a local event
Image courtesy parkrun news