'If you can't beat them, join them' says Parkrun legend Gerry, 80

Diamond Creek Parkrun volunteer Gerry, 80, a real gem

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Gerry Lovatt (centre) celebrates his 80th birthday with Diamond Creek Parkrun volunteers Nikki Waterfall and Ben Thomas. Photo: Sally Heppleston

Gerry Lovatt (centre) celebrates his 80th birthday with Diamond Creek Parkrun volunteers Nikki Waterfall and Ben Thomas. Photo: Sally Heppleston


Volunteer Gerry, 80, has never looked back after signing up for Parkrun


WHAT happens when every Saturday morning your regular walking track is flooded with hundreds of walkers and runners?

Eighty-year-old Gerry Lovett from north-east Melbourne enjoys his morning strolls.

"But I used to get a bit grumpy every week because I would have hundreds of people coming towards me during my regular walk," said the octogenarian.

"Then I realised after chatting to a friend, well if I can't beat them, I may as well join them!"

So in April 2017, Gerry signed up to take part in his first Parkrun in his home town of Diamond Creek and he said he's never looked back.

Gerry, who celebrated his 80th birthday with his Parkrun 'family' a couple of weeks ago, has completed 29 Parkruns at Diamond Creek and volunteered more than 70 times.

"I had some health issues about a year ago which meant I could no longer actually walk the course, but I wouldn't miss parkrun for quids," he said.

"I don't care which role I do, so long as I'm involved. It's such a lovely community. I've got some wonderful friends there and of course, made some new friends since going along too."

Earlier this year Parkrun was awarded a grant as part of the government's Better Ageing initiative to encourage more older Australians to live active lives.

"Our aim is to empower people for whom physical activity through walking, running and volunteering is not the norm to become involved with parkrun in a way that is enjoyable, sociable and leads to regular participation," Parkrun Australia CEO, Tim Oberg said.

"Our mantra at Parkrun is that it's not about how fast you can run, it's about getting involved, whether you are running or walking the course, or volunteering.

"Gerry's experience with Parkrun was the perfect example of the benefits community and friendships, as well as living an active lifestyle, can have on your overall health."

Diamond Creek Parkrun co-event director Nikki Waterfall said Gerry was a well-loved and much-respected member of the Diamond Creek Parkrun community.

"The best thing Gerry does at Parkrun is talk to people. He remembers the names of regulars and says hello to newcomers," Ms Waterfall said.

"I remember walking with Gerry one Saturday morning and he said hello to a lady who was walking the other way with her head down. He said, 'you've got to get them to talk, to say hello'. It felt like a life lesson."


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