Running has been a constant throughout an ever-changing year for Nov Run Club founder Leon Parkes. The pandemic allowed him time to stop and re-evaluate what he wanted to do in life. He tells us how he’s been working hard to encourage others in his local community, in north west London, to take up running and not to be put off by the fact that many running events are not yet diverse enough for the multicultural capital city they run through.
He will be taking on The Vitality Big Half for the first time this year after seeing the event from the other side of the barrier as a volunteer steward.
How have you found the last 18 months? What got you through the hardest times?
I’ll be honest, this year has been a real blessing. It has given me an opportunity to really question my purpose and how I want to impact my community post-university. It has presented its challenges – completing my final year of university, dealing with losses and the constant uncertainty. It has been a testing time for us all, however it provided an opportunity to unite. I feel the lockdown has revealed the power of community, with the worldwide movements showing there is strength in numbers.
What does community mean to you? What does it bring to your life?
Community brings perspective and accountability. I come from a large family and I’ve been accustomed to leaning on them when I have needed a spark of life – being able to extend that into a running community – Nov Run Club – has made my family even bigger. Having a community that can cheer you on when you reach your goal and drag you through each trial makes each run have that much more purpose. You aren’t just running for your own goal, you’re running to keep someone else going.