78 year old Ken taking on third Bournemouth Half Marathon in memory of daughter JennyKen Parradine would never have believed you if you’d told him in 2016 that he would go on to become a running veteran over the next 5 years.
However, after finally being persuaded by a couple of persistent friends to take part in a local parkrun – that’s exactly what happened!
And he’ll be lacing up his trainers to take on the Bournemouth Half Marathon for the third time this October.
Ken’s journey from never running to becoming a regular fixture at Run Bournemouth was unconventional and sadly, marred by tragedy.
A keen sportsman from a young age, it wasn’t running, but Table Tennis, that first earned Ken’s attention.
“I have always been very keen on sport since childhood. I adopted a competitive approach in whatever I took part in. My game was Table Tennis, which I played competitively from 1975 to 2010.” Ken told us.
Playing well into his sixties, Ken enjoyed individual and team success on the table tennis court until eventually succumbing to vision issues. He’d been able to play through these for his last few years, but when it became more difficult than enjoyable to play, Ken knew that it was time to quit.
His retirement from table tennis marked the beginning of an incredibly difficult period for Ken and his family.
“I was feeling a bit lost after giving it up. Soon after this I learnt that my daughter, Jenny, needed a kidney to help save her life.
Jenny always had kidney problems after her twins were born in 1992. I decided I needed to donate one of mine.”
Ken undertook a number of tests to confirm his eligibility. Initially, the procedure seemed as though it would be a success.
“In 2015, all was well with my tests in various hospitals. I donated a kidney in Bristol later that year. Jenny got through the surgery very well, the doctor told me after the operation that all was well.”
Sadly, shortly after, Jenny’s condition began to deteriorate. Ken, who was also in recovery from the operation, was unable to visit and found himself relying on updates on Jenny’s health from his wife and son in law.
“I was too weak to visit Jenny more than once. One day, my wife and Jenny’s husband returned from the hospital and told me that Jenny was no longer with us. You can imagine my response.
It was a terrible time for the three of us. To round off my miserable time over the next couple of years, my right eye had contracted A.M.D and I was no longer able to drive.”
It was around this difficult time that Ken and his wife were encouraged to take on the Bournemouth parkrun by a couple of friends who thought they’d enjoy the event. Ken eventually decided to give it a go, but was initially taken aback by the challenge of the run.
“After running about 100 yards, I was totally out of breath!”
However, at this point, Ken’s competitive nature took over. He’d well and truly caught the running bug.
“I joined a running club in 2017 and began to feel really comfortable, not only with the running but with the fabulous group; Hev’s Harriers. Our coach Heather gave me so much inspiration and help, it’s a fantastic group.”
Having gained confidence from his group, Ken began running longer distances and taking on new challenges.
“I entered around 14 races in 2018 and 2019. In August 2019, I managed a time of 24 mins which was a parkrun regional record for my age of nearly 76 at the time. In September of 2019, I managed a time of 1hr, 50 mins at the New Forest Half Marathon.”
Ken’s grateful for finding running during a dark time in his life and credits it with giving him new found direction.
“Losing my beloved daughter, Jenny, took the world out of my life, but I have thoroughly enjoyed my running to date. I enjoy every race I’ve entered and Run Bournemouth events have been no exception.”
We’d like to wish a huge good luck to Ken when the big day comes in October. What an inspiration!