Lithgow woman Florentina Dulceanu recently received a Community Spirit Award for helping Anthony Mahr, who has a visual impairment, participate in Lithgow Parkrun.
Mahr’s running guide Madeline Mercieca and founder of Running Mums Australia Nicole Bunyon nominated Dulceanu for the award, which was created by Tailwind Nutrition Australia.
Dulceanu offered to run with him after Anthony’s usual guide, Ms Mercieca, spread the word on social media that she needed someone to replace her.
“I just jumped in happy to help,” Dulceanu said.
“It was a wonderful experience, Anthony was very down to earth, after he gave me a few tips we were ready and eager to be at the start line.”
Mr Mahr ran the whole course and achieved a personal best time.
“We had lots of laughs along the way while talking about our love for Parkruns and life in general,” she said.
“People were very supportive, cheering us on as we passed by and we did the same cheering people back in true Parkrun spirit.”
Dulceanu said she didn’t find it difficult to be a guide and that the key to a successful run with a person who had a visual impairment was communication.
“Before we started I asked Anthony what he wanted and how we can best do this together,” she said.
According to Dulceanu he asked only to be pre-warned of turns and any other bigger obstacles in the way.
“It is so easy to forget that Anthony can’t see because he is so passionate about running,” she said.
Dulceanu said she would love the opportunity to be Mr Mahr's guide again and hoped that other people would too.
“Parkrun is not only a great place to go for a run or walk, but is a very supportive community where you are safe and looked after by the volunteers,” she said.
“Being a guide is so rewarding, you follow someone’s lead as much as they follow yours, it is very special.”
Mr Mahr attends Lawson Parkrun on a weekly basis but attends the Lithgow Parkrun occasionally for something different.
“I met Tina through my regular guide who lined it up because she was injured,” he said.
“That weekend was really good, I set a personal best time that week and she learnt really quickly with the guiding.”
Mr Mahr said that anyone could be a guide as long as they kept up with the runner. For him that meant being able to run five kilometres in the 32 to 38 minute mark.
“I am always willing to take it slow to help the guide get use to it, but if you can run that then great,” he said.
According to Mr Mahr a guide has a bit of rope between him and the guide and they tell him about changes in the ground, such as rocks, steps, water and if he has to move to the left if people are coming back.
“I also try and get transport to and from the run because I can’t get there myself,” he said.
Mr Mahr said there was lots to enjoy about attending Parkrun.
“I enjoy being amongst the group, setting my own goals and getting fit,” he said.
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