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Dale celebrates 500 community connections on the run


Major Dale Murray (centre) with supporters at his 500th Parkrun event.

Dale crossing the finishing line for the 500th time in a Parkrun event.

BY LAUREN MARTIN

 

Major Dale Murray may be the first Salvation Army officer to have crossed the finish line at a Parkrun event 500 times. For him, the achievement combines his passion for running with his love for connecting with people.

 

Dale is the Divisional Operations Manager in Queensland, and he and his wife Major Darlene (Officer Personnel Secretary – Qld) have been involved with Parkrun for more than a decade.

 

Parkrun is a weekly 5km run/jog/walk event held at different locations in local communities throughout the world.

 

Statistics are everything for runners, and here are some of Dale’s:

• Out of 5.7 million Parkrun participants worldwide, Dale ranks in the top 1000 for the number of events participated in.

• Since he began Parkrun in 2013, he has run 2500km in 115 different events across four different countries, including the UK, France and Germany. (He has also run 25 marathons.)

• He has been on the Parkrun Australia board for two years and has helped set up 11 Parkrun events across Australia.

• He believes he may have been the first Salvation Army officer in the world to have crossed the finish line 500 times when he reached his milestone on 30 March this year.

 

Wow, those are some impressive stats! But behind the numbers lies the heart of Dale’s passion for people and connection.

 

“What I love about Parkrun is that it’s not a race; it’s a run, walk or jog, and everyone’s treated as a winner. It’s a place of encouragement. I love encouraging people and seeing people do their best.”

 

Dale runs because it connects him with God and is good for his mental and physical wellbeing. He also runs Parkrun because it gives him the ability to authentically connect with his local community.

 

“In all my involvement, I’ve never gone there specifically as a Salvation Army officer,” he says. “But in my engagement, people have soon learned that Darlene and I are both Salvation Army officers, and through that, we have had the opportunity to speak into people’s lives and support people.”


Dale and Darlene have been involved in Parkruns for more than a decade.

Dale and Darlene have had multiple opportunities to pastorally care for fellow runners and share aspects of their faith and testimonies. 

 

“It’s been really helpful to be able to engage in that friendly, healthy environment,” says Dale. “People are not just after physical wellbeing; people are also interested in their spiritual wellbeing as well.”

 

Dale encourages all Salvos across Australia to take part in community activities like Parkrun. He says that many churches spend a lot of time and energy creating programs and activities to invite the community to engage in when activities like Parkrun already have community engagement, and all Christians need to do is attend and shine the light of Jesus to people there through their lives and testimonies.

 

“There are so many lonely people in our communities in the world today, and Saturday is their time of connection with the community. Parkrun gives a real opportunity for Salvos to be involved and connected because there are over 450 events across Australia.”

 

And for the non-runners, Dale says there’s still a way to engage: “Some people don’t run, they just volunteer – they attend to volunteer and connect. It’s through these connections that people see Jesus in us. 

 

“People say, ‘Why are you different?’ People ask, ‘Why do you do what you do?’ You can have these really spiritual conversations – you don’t have to bring it up; people actually raise it with you. For us as The Salvation Army it’s so important that we do engage with the community at that grassroots level.”


I've been everywhere man ... Major Dale Murray and some of the places he has run.


 

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