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Selva - in the centre dressed in black with Park Run stewards at the end of her run.

Selva (centre) with Park Run stewards including her friend Yock Lin (on the right)

Selva earns her place on the front line

Erica Smith meets her Park Run hero.

I must have first noticed Selva Heffernan soon after she started Park Run at the end of August in 2016. She was a small, apple-shaped woman in a pinky purple jacket and if I had to describe her in one word, it would be ‘tenacious’. I would always spot her at the start of the race, and again, when I was cycling back home at the end. I loved her determined running style. I also noticed that as the weeks and months went past, Selva was changing. She was definitely getting faster and her body shape was becoming honed as she developed more muscle tone.

I finally got to interview Selva after her 100th Park Run on 11th May and I asked her what made her put on her running shoes for the first time. She explained that she goes swimming with a friend, Yock Lin Richardson, who is a member of Hastings Runners and a keen Park Runner. Selva’s son is also a regular at the Poole Park Run, and encouraged his mum to try the Hastings Park Run. “Swimming is low intensity, and running is high intensity exercise, which is why I wanted to try Park Run.”

Selva is also famous for insisting on starting at the front of the pack which is where the faster runners usually choose to start. Because she is so tiny, I can understand why she wants to do this – it gives her a chance to move over to the promenade railings without getting jostled by the crowds. She says that sometimes some runners have got grumpy with her for starting on the front-line, but she isn’t going to change her position – “After all, it’s a fun run, not a professional race – it’s up to everyone to be friendly.”

I agree with Selva – and Hastings Park Run really is a very friendly and fun event. Every time I run it I am touched by the sense of community, and that it is such a brilliant way to encourage the less athletic amongst us to engage in a healthy bit of cardio-vascular activity at least once a week. I asked Selva for her advice for new Park Runners, and the ones like me, who can get a bit jaded and lazy about exercise. She said “Just keep going”.

Thank you Selva – you are my reminder to keep on keeping on. I’ll see you on the frontline next Saturday!

Hastings Park Run happens every Saturday morning at 9am on West St Leonards seafront – by Seaside Road, Hastings, TN38 0AG. It is free, but you need to register online and print out a bar code before your first run. For more information, visit the Park Run Hastings web page. There is also a Hastings Park Run Facebook page.

Posted 21:16 Wednesday, May 22, 2019 In: Health Matters

Also in: Health Matters

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