Ex-squaddie wins first race on 161st attempt

Shawn Mason won his first parkrun after 161 attempts over a 12 year period.

Shawn Mason won his first parkrun after 161 attempts over a 12 year period. - Credit: Shawn Mason

For most people, the saying "if at first you don't succeed, try, try and try again" is usually a throwaway comment.

But for one Norfolk man, it was something he took seriously.

After 161 attempts over 12 years, Shawn Mason of Rollesby, near Great Yarmouth, won his first parkrun race.

He said: "It's all about perseverance.

"I think I started running as a bit of a midlife crisis. I was a bit overweight and I wanted to do something to help my fitness."

From left: Shawn Mason, YouTube fitness influencer Ben Parkes, and Mr Mason's son-in-law Aaron Button.

From left: Shawn Mason, YouTube fitness influencer Ben Parkes, and Mr Mason's son-in-law Aaron Button at the Great Yarmouth North Beach parkrun. - Credit: Shawn Mason

Mr Mason competes at parkruns across Norfolk but his victorious race came at Flegg High parkrun on Saturday, February 5, where he finished in 20 minutes and 56 seconds. 

The ex-squaddie, who turns 52 in April, said: "It was totally unexpected because whenever you turn up, you don't expect to win. 

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"It took me by complete surprise and gave me a great sense of achievement.

"Although it took me 12 years to finally win, it was a superb feeling."

Having been a lance corporal in the Royal Anglian Regiment 'The Vikings' as well as a keen footballer and rugby player when he was younger, Mr Mason was determined to turn competing in parkruns into a habit.

Shawn Mason won his first parkrun at Flegg High parkrun on Saturday, February 5.

Shawn Mason won his first parkrun at Flegg High parkrun on Saturday, February 5. - Credit: Shawn Mason

He said: "The army instils a certain level of discipline. It's about never giving up and listening to what your body needs.

"There's lots of people that start and give it a go for a while but lose that motivation. You must adapt to what suits you most."

Parkruns are free, weekly, community events that take place across the world and are usually set over five kilometres.

And having competed across the county, Mr Mason believes there is one parkrun which stands out as being harder than most.

He said: "The Great Yarmouth parkrun is known for being one of the most difficult in the UK.

"It's all sand so running on the beach makes it very challenging."

Mr Mason added that he tries to go to the events "as often as he can" and his family tend to join him to offer their support.

He said: "It's a great atmosphere and it's so easy to get involved in.

"For me, it's just about keeping fit and taking part."