Basil, 92, celebrates 100th parkrun

Basil Murray was surrounded by some of his family and friends as he completed his 100th parkrun in Fish Hoek. From left are friends Anneke Greyling and Anne van Niekerk; his daughter, Caro Murray; his grandson-in-law Steve Naudé; his son, Cecil Murray; and his granddaughter, Claire Naudé (granddaughter).

Age is merely a number for 92-year-old Basil Murray, who has completed his 100th parkrun.

“It felt good ticking off that box,” he said in Fish Hoek on Saturday as he celebrated the milestone.

Fish Hoek parkrun is a free weekly 5km event for participants of all levels of fitness. It is held every Saturday at 8am on the Fish Hoek Sports Fields.

“In my initial 50 parkruns, I found it fascinating to observe my time improve as I became fitter and better,“ said Mr Murray.

“By the time I reached my second 50 parkruns, I had the wisdom and understanding to notice a gradual decline in my time, but I still considered it a positive achievement.”

Mr Murray has covered 500km over those 100 parkruns. He has also volunteered at 45 of the events and hopes to do so for 50 of them.

“Throughout my life, I’ve been involved in athletics, although I never reached champion status. However, I performed well enough to participate in school sports, particularly rugby, cricket, and athletics. Among them, I found cross country to be my favourite race, likely due to my impressive endurance,” he said.

Mr Murray was married to Hester, affectionately known as Hettie, the love of his life, for 65 years, until she died earlier this year. Together they had four children, seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

His son, Cecil Murray, described him as a man of faith, farming, and family. “Growing up in the Karoo, my father spent most of his life farming sheep there. Later in life, he pursued theology and became a pastor, missionary, and trainer of missionaries. He recently attended his 75th class reunion at Grey High School in Port Elizabeth.”

His father started cycling in his 60s, going on to win gold in his age category (aged 80) at the Argus Cycle Tour, followed by silver and bronze the following years.

At the age of 86, he started running and walking, joining parkrun in July 2017.

“It was such a privilege to do my father’s100th parkrun with him. Not so easy keeping up though,” said Cecil.

“Of our four siblings, Caro and I were able to be present, while Nicole lives in Pretoria. Sadly, our sister, Linda passed away in October last year, and our mom, Hettie, also passed away in January this year. This has been a difficult emotional time.“

He said his father’s consistent participation in the parkrun mirrored his approach to life.

“He feels emotions deeply, is not afraid to show them, then gets on with being a most positive human. He inspires our whole family, and his wider tribe of friends and fellow parkrunners to keep going, even when the going gets tough. I love and respect this man so much.”

To those considering joining the parkrun, regardless of age or fitness level, Mr Murray said: “If they’ve only heard of it now, they’ve missed out on a big part of their lives already. They must join immediately; it will enrich your life. I think it’s a wonderful way of encouraging people to stay fit.”

“I want to emphasise that I don’t consider myself a remarkable athlete in any sense.

“What truly matters to me is the enjoyment I find in participating in parkrun. For me, it isn’t just about the number of runs completed; it’s about enjoying the company, volunteering, and being part of a friendly and supportive community. It’s almost like being part of another family, and I hope to continue having fun regularly in this wonderful activity.“

Fish Hoek parkrun spokeswoman Brigitte Horne praised Mr Murray, saying, “You are such an inspiration to all of us. We are very proud of you and wish you good health, happiness, and all the best for the future.“