Ramona Thevenet (pictured - centre) became the first ever female member of the exclusive 500 parkrun club this year. The W55 Stragglers Running Club member claimed her world first by completing 2,500kms of parkruns with the vast majority being at her home event in Bushy Park – where it all began in 2004.
World's First Female 500 parkrunner
There is nothing ordinary about Ramona's running background and 5k really is a jog in the park for this ultra-distance specialist. A glance at her athlete profile reveals useful times from 200m (37.1) to marathon (3:12:49) – the latter set six years ago in Dublin. However, she has also completed 195.9 miles in 24 hours (in Holland in 2004) in a running career that has seen some astonishing long distance feats achieved. Not bad for someone who suffers from asthma!
Ramona's parkrun journey began just after the first anniversary of Bushy in 2005 and she has now completed 504 runs at this venue. Ramona recalls how different parkrun was back then: “On my first day there were just 78 finishers at Bushy parkrun. Now it has mushroomed to more than 1,000 people passing through the multiple finish funnels most Saturdays. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of other parkrunners doing exactly the same thing at around 1,200 parkruns in 17 other countries around the world”.
Ramona also feels she has changed since she acquired 500 parkrun status: “Being the first woman in parkrun history to join the 500 Club is something really special and has actually made me feel very different. Each and every one of us are ambassadors for parkrun in our own way and the first time I wore my 500 shirt I realised that it is not just a piece of material. There is a responsibility that comes with it”.
With 520 runs now completed (and counting), Ramona has this excellent advice for timid newcomers: “My advice to women and girls who are nervous about taking part in parkrun is not to build it up in your mind and start putting mental barriers in your way unnecessarily. Smile: it relaxes the muscles in your face, then your neck, then your back, then your hips, then your legs. Don’t load yourself up with gadgets and wires. Forget lycra: wear trendy beach shorts or fancy dress or whatever you are comfortable in and let your hips flow”.
And if anyone knows anything about the benefits of parkrun for women it has to be Ramona Thevenet, who is now aiming to join the as yet non-existent 1,000 parkrunner club!
Find your local parkrun here.
Image courtesy Stragglers Running Club