Fun times on the run

Tari JeffersManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Mark Sewell is comfortable with the life he has built with his family during his time in the Lower South West.
Camera IconMark Sewell is comfortable with the life he has built with his family during his time in the Lower South West. Credit: Manjimup-Bridgetown Times

Family, community, health and sustainability are the pillars on which Mark Sewell has built his life in Manjimup.

Mark moved to the region from Halls Creek in the Kimberley about a decade ago.

“It was a huge change in landscape and in the culture and the opportunities,” he said.

“We’re in a nice, productive, soft green environment here, with lots of trees — as opposed to the Kimberley, where it’s kind of a harsh environment.”

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Mark loves everything about Manjimup, from the size of the town, to the quality of facilities for health, sport and education.

“All this and it’s wrapped around a beautiful natural and farming landscape,” he said.

One of Mark’s local passions is his involvement in the Manjimup Park Run, which recently would have celebrated its sixth birthday if there had not been restrictions on group gatherings.

Each Saturday, Park Run participants run or walk through the King Jarrah track in a social outing that welcomes and encourages fitness, fun and friends.

“There’s probably 50/50 runners and walkers and the walkers sometimes bring dogs or prams or the like,” Mark said.

“It has something for everyone.

“I think over 1000 different people have come to the Park Run over its six years and of those 1000, less than half are local.”

Mark said of the distance walked from those 1000 people, Manjimup Park Run group has covered more than 38,000km.

“That’s nearly a lap of the planet, so sometime this year we should get that finished,” he said.

Before COVID-19 restrictions were put in place, the weekly meet attracted 20 to 30 regulars.

“Once we’re allowed to go again, we’re there every Saturday from 8am at the King Jarrah, it’s free and fun,” Mark said.

“It’s called Park Run, but it’s a really pleasant, meaningful connecting social experience.

“Some come once and never again, some come once in a while and some are there many, many weeks a year.” While the group is run by volunteers, there is no executive committee, so participants can pitch in to help with timekeeping and registrations.

The run director is the person each week who starts and finishes the race, a role Mark has enjoyed.

In his professional life, Mark works as part of the Manjimup shire staff in the waste management sector and he says he enjoys his job.

“It’s a great opportunity to contribute in a meaningful, practical way to the local community,” he said.

His role has taught him a lot about the environment and has affected how he views and treats sustainability at home.

“We can live without using too much of the earth’s resources and without exploiting them,” Mark said.

“When we live simply, we can find out how much pleasure we get from that.”

Mark’s various passions led to him being a nominee for Citizen of the Year this year.

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