Margaret Johnstone: Walking Her Way to 50

When Margaret Johnstone celebrated her 50th parkrun it was much cause for celebration.

Invercargill parkrun posted a tribute to Margaret, commending her on her consistency and for being a part of their community.

While this isn’t out of the ordinary, what makes Margaret stand out is that she’s 75 and one of the regular walkers at Invercargill.

Margaret was a joy to speak to, she was eager to say she’s not stopping at 50; she’s already looking forward to the next milestone of 100 park runs.

Not bad for someone who thought it would take them a long time to build up to 5km in the first place.

Margaret is a breast cancer survivor and has lymphedema, which means she has to wear an elastic armband for her waking hours.

“I’m doing parkrun for my health, to get me fit but I also love the company. I look forward to people giving me encouragement. [Event director] Liz is just wonderful.”

What’s parkrun?

Margaret joined Invercargill parkrun in January 2019.

She and husband Carl had been away on a trip with the local tramping club. They were with their long-time friends Barry and Robin Smith, regular Invercargill parkrunners.

“Carl was telling him how I walk around Queen’s Park on my own. Barry said that he had the right thing for me. He said to come to parkrun. I’d never heard of it so he told me all about it.”

To start with Margaret didn’t walk the full course (nor cross the finish line). She was met at the 2km marker by Barry once he had finished and then another parkrunner, Regan Prattley, would join her to finish.

“Then one week Barry said he thought I could do the full 5km and I believed him.”

That was February 2019. Since then Margaret has been a regular at Queen’s Park, either walking, marshalling or tail walking.

Celebrating her 50th

They are so wonderful and supportive towards me, I’ve got a few health problems. It’s taken me a while to get to 50.”

Counting down

She and her husband Carl were away for one week in Rolleston. Carl walked at Foster parkrun but Margaret was on 49 parkruns and wanted to wait until she was back at home to celebrate.

There she was cheered on by fellow parkrunners. Unfortunately Carl was unable to get there, but Margaret wasn’t waiting.

“Every week I was counting down. My Saturdays would be boring if I didn’t know about parkrun.”

During the week Margaret keeps active with line dancing, ballroom dancing and Zumba, but parkrun is a highlight. One of her ballroom dancing friends lives across the road from the course and is standing at her window waving each Saturday.

Spreading the word

“I tell people that parkrun is wonderful, that they’re really supportive. It takes me an hour to do mine.

“My granddaughter is going to start parkrun and walk with me. My daughter works most weekends and comes when she can.”

Her son lives in Christchurch and visited for Christmas. He and his girlfriend went to parkrun with her on Christmas Day – and hopefully they will keep on going.

She tells everyone she can that parkrun is something that would enhance their weekends.

“I tell people to come with me and do their own pace. As long as you get there that’s the main thing At the finish I’m always so pleased to have done another 5km.

“I’d love to see more walkers do parkrun. It’s healthy for you and you forget about all your problems. And afterwards we enjoy the coffee and mousetraps at The Cheeky Llama.”

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