How parkrun helped Megan run a marathon

Megan Bigg never thought she would be able to finish a marathon, but thanks to parkrun she completed that achievement last year.

The Anderson parkrunner has overcome some serious medical issues in the past, but regular 5km runs and walks have helped her stay active.

“In September 2004 I was out walking, training for what was then the Pak ‘n’ Save Hawkes Bay marathon clinic for the half marathon.

“I was with my sister and we had driven to the Ahuriri Estuary, walked round it and were on the way home when my aortic valve packed up and I suffered a cardiac event called a ventricular fibrillation.

“I was given CPR and was on life support for 10 days. The valve was replaced in November that year. 

“I completed that half marathon in 2007 and never did another one until 2016 and have continued doing a few each year.”

Megan Bigg at the Auckland Marathon finish.

“I also suffer from scoliosis and had that repaired but the rod and a screw has snapped, so have suffered nerve pain in the past. 

“So yep my body is broken, but it works and got me through my first marathon. Before parkrun I didn’t think that was possible.”

Finding parkrun

Megan’s first parkrun was on January 6, 2018 at Anderson parkrun.

She had seen a facebook post from a friend about New Year’s Day parkrun and was intrigued.  She registered straight away and was at the next parkrun.

“I didn’t know what to expect at my first parkrun. I was nervous and excited before I turned up. I wasn’t used to running 5km in a timed environment.”

Megan finishing her first parkrun.

“Afterwards I felt really pleased with my time and was excited about turning up the following week. I felt it went really well, I completed it with a mixture of running and walking. 

“After I had been parkrunning a few times it turned  out that one of the regulars used to be a personal trainer at the gym my Dad owned. She is now helping me run more than I walk.

New friends

She says parkrun has widened her social circle, as well as discovering the Greatest Virtual Runners online group. She signed up for their next available event and through that group met other members at the Hawkes Bay Marathon.

“Then I went to Wellington simply to try Lower Hutt parkrun. And since then I’ve done many events with these people.”

Celebrating her 50th milestone

“I use parkrun as a training tool and I am fitter than ever from doing parkrun.

“Without parkrun I don’t think I would be as fit as what I am now. I wouldn’t have met all these awesome new friends and I wouldn’t have travelled as much as I have in the last few years.”

New goals

Megan’s parkrun goals are to run at least one lap of Anderson parkrun non-stop and to visit the birthplace of park, Bushy parkrun.

She’s also a passionate volunteer, choosing to tail walk or write the run report.

“Both of those give me an opportunity to walk, but also to give back and support the parkrun movement.”


How a Napier woman found more support for a healthier lifestyle

Sally Houliston would see Anderson parkrunners while out walking in the same Napier park.

 A friend in the UK had also told her about parkrun so she decided that the 5km event would be a good way to get into running regularly as part of her overall fitness journey – she’d lost almost 35kg prior to joining parkrun.

Her first parkrun was in January 2020 and now she is a regular.

“I enjoy getting to meet new people from across the community with common interests plus it’s nice to be involved in something not work-focused.

“Being office based for my job Monday to Friday, it’s great to get out on a Saturday morning for the fresh air. The support from others in supporting you with fitness goals is really encouraging.

“Because of parkrun I’ve made new friends and connections. It’s also something our whole family has become involved with each week. I’m promoting a healthy lifestyle for my son and also friends.

Sally Houliston lost 35kg before she discovered parkrun.

“Going to parkrun is great for my mental health, and the running gives me a chance to have ‘me’ time – it’s my way of relaxation.”


Sally is aiming to achieve her 50 milestone this year, as well as to volunteer at least 10 times. She’s volunteered twice so far as marshal and run report write.

“I really enjoyed marshalling and giving encouragement to others.”

Sally is a passionista of Anderson parkrun, she’s run all her 33 events to date at the Hawkes Bay parkrun.

However she says she would like to visit the Queenstown and Wanaka parkruns as her parents live in Central Otago.

Being involved with parkrun has contributed to Sally’s fitness.

“I have a goal to run at least two half marathons this year. I also want to get my parkrun PB closer to 25 – 26 mins, it’s currently 26:59.

“Because of parkrun I’ve been able to get involved with a new community group and now my teenage son is coming along.

“Having been on a significant health and fitness journey in the past three years, participating in parkrun is another way of incorporating activities into a new healthy lifestyle.”