INSPIRATIONAL runner Tracy Butterfield recently achieved her 250th parkrun overcoming the odds after being diagnosed with a health condition that affects her balance and spine surgery!
Her journey hasn’t been a quick and easy one and has been interspersed with 120 Volunteering occasions and after completing her achievement on the 17th anniversary of Warrington Parkrun, she was invited to share her story as a way of inspiring others.
Tracy from Newton-le-Willows, who is a regular at the Warrington event said: “I first heard of parkrun from a family member who told me about a 5k run he was doing every Saturday morning in Leeds.
“My first thought was ‘why on earth would anyone want to run 5k every week??!!’ My husband decided he wanted to start, so I would stay in my warm bed whilst my husband, Rick, and our youngest son got up early to drive to a local park to do a parkrun. They subsequently came back talking about their runs, who they had met and the volunteers who cheered them on and after a few weeks I felt I was missing out on something! My first recorded parkrun was at Pennington Flash on 27th July 2013 when I jogged and walked the course, although I had walked the week before but not signed up for a barcode.
“After a few weeks I was hooked, then on discovering the parkrun Tourism group, began planning which events were close by when visiting family and friends or going on holiday. With my first tourist run at Gateshead and having currently completed 25 different parkruns in England, Scotland, Singapore and Poland, I am now a member of the ‘Cow Cowell’ club.
“In December 2015 I was diagnosed with Labyrinthitis, which unfortunately progressed into Menières Disease, a condition which affects balance, causes severe vertigo and tinnitus and has left me with hearing loss in my right ear. Despite this my love for parkrun kept me motivated and determined to continue and even when it feels like I am running on marshmallow underfoot I get myself out of bed and show up!
“During a trip to Szczecin, Poland to complete the parkrun there in November 2018 I had a twinge at the back of my right thigh and put it down to a muscle strain, however the day after we arrived home I was unable to stand and Rick had to call an ambulance as I was in so much pain. An MRI scan showed a prolapsed disc at S4 & S5 in my back which caused the sciatic pain in my leg and was why the Ibuprofen cream I was rubbing on it never helped. I was put on the waiting list for spine surgery and had to go back to staying at home on a Saturday morning.”
Tracy had her operation on 17th January 2019 at Salford Royal Hospital and was told she had months of recuperation ahead of her. she started recovery by walking very slowly around the house before her consultant agreed that she could leave the house and walk to the end of the road and back.
“At first it was extremely painful and even walking up and down a curb was difficult. Happily, I returned to parkrun to undertake Volunteer roles including Timing and Barcode Scanning until, on 16th March 2019, I volunteered as Tailwalker to complete my first parkrun in almost 4 months, which I continued to do for a few weeks until I felt strong enough to jog.
“I still have lasting effects of pain, numbness, pins and needles and spasms in my back, leg and foot but I do feel proud that I cope with this as well as the effects of Menières Disease and have managed to return to my regular Saturday morning 5k runs and enjoy meeting up with the people who have now become friends.
“When I ran parkrun on 14th March 2020 I never truly believed it would be the last one for 16 months due to the Nationwide Lockdown so when parkrun HQ announced the (not)parkrun initiative I was delighted. This meant that I could still complete a 5k run during my daily exercise and log it on my profile to record times and although this didn’t count towards my 250 parkrun total it was still a positive for me, as I’m sure it was for many others as we saw a lot of regulars out running at the same time as us.
“It was a relief when the regular parkruns restarted this year on 24th July when I ran Fulham Palace in London due to visiting our daughter & son-in-law.
“If it wasn’t for parkrun getting me hooked I would never have had the confidence at the age of 52 to sign up for other 5k’s and even 10k runs. I am unashamedly a fan of running ‘bling’ having now accumulated a good collection of medals with the most recent being the inaugural Warrington Running Festival 10k medal, by no means finishing in a fast time but always proud to reach the finish line.
“I have now claimed my Green parkrun 250 T-shirt and can’t wait for it to arrive so that I can wear it with a great sense of achievement on a Saturday morning!”