Meet Jim Fowler, a dedicated Risk Officer at the Stoke site since April 2019. Jim isn't just managing risks, he's also an avid runner. We sat down with him to learn more about his passion for parkrunning.
What's a hobby or interest you're passionate about outside of your work at Atlanta?
I’m a Run Director at Trentham Gardens parkrun – a free weekly 5K event where people can run or walk. As Run Director, I work as part of a team to organise the event, making sure that all our volunteers know what they are doing and that we put on a safe event. I enjoy running the event when I’m not the RD. Recently I’ve become a Buggy Dad, as I push my 1 year old daughter round the course in her running buggy.
Can you share a bit about how you discovered or developed this hobby?
I started running sporadically at Hanley parkrun in 2012, I wasn’t very regular at this point as I thought who wants to get up on a Saturday morning to go out for a run? Whilst part of me still thinks that some days, what really got me on board with the idea of parkrun is that there are hundreds of events across the country, and once you have signed up for one event, you can do any of them. My wife is from Telford, so that became my first “tourist” destination, and from there I’ve gone on to take part in events all over the country, and abroad. I got into being a Run Director when I saw on Facebook that a group of people were looking to set up a new event at Trentham Gardens. The opportunity to help set an event up from scratch including deciding the course, getting a group of volunteers together and launching the event really appealed to me so I signed myself up.
Are there any specific achievements or milestones related to your hobby that you're proud of?
Being Run Director of the very first Trentham Gardens parkrun was brilliant. We didn’t know what to expect and had optimistically estimated about 250-300 people to attend, we ended up having over 550 that day! So a hectic morning but a real sense of pride for the whole volunteering team for putting on a great event that day! Also having Dame Kelly Holmes come to Trentham Gardens was brilliant. She gave a speech at the start, and stopped to take photos with everyone at the end.
How does your outside-of-work passion contribute to your overall well-being?
It helps massively! The community feel at parkrun is amazing, I’ve gained so many friends from my time there, and have found that we have a few other parkrun geeks at Atlanta too! So whether I’m walking, running or volunteering, it is always a brilliant start to the day and great for my mental health.
Are there any interesting stories or experiences related to your hobby that you'd like to share?
Parkrun events take place all over the world now, and so I’ve ran events in USA, Italy and Poland. I also ran parkrun on the morning of my wedding day, and had a few friends come and run in suit and tie, and even had our very own vicar!
How do you find time to pursue your hobby amidst your professional responsibilities?
Parkrun takes place on a Saturday morning, it’s quite easy to fit in with work.
Do you see any connections between your outside-of-work activities and your role at Atlanta?
Definitely as Run Director, whether you are giving the run briefing at the start (presentation skills), showing volunteers what you need them to do (training), or dealing with an unforeseen situation (problem solving) there’s a lot of crossover.
Are there any new hobbies you're looking forward to exploring in the future?
Since becoming a dad, my time for hobbies has reduced quite drastically! But I’m loving being a dad, and everything that brings.
How do your colleagues at Atlanta support or share in your outside-of-work interests?
My teammates are great at not showing their boredom when I bring up parkrun for the millionth time, which is much appreciated – sorry guys! And we do have quite a few parkrunners at Atlanta too across our different sites, which is fantastic.
If you could encourage your colleagues to try one thing related to your hobby, what would it be?
I would just say that if you have ever thought about either taking part (running or walking) or volunteering, then give it a try. It doesn’t cost anything, and all you need to do is sign up once and then just turn up on the day. There’s no commitment, so if you don’t like it then there’s no pressure to come back. The support and atmosphere at every parkrun I’ve been to has been brilliant.
You can sign up for parkrun today.