Thirlmere man in wheelchair sets new personal records at Picton Parkrun

Robert Carlin is often a fair way behind the pack at Picton parkrun.

But he wouldn't have it any other way.

The Thirlmere man, who is wheelchair-bound, has became a popular figure at the club on Saturday mornings.

Parkrun is a free, timed 5-kilometre walk, jog or run for people of all ages.

Mr Carlin has done 14 parkruns and has enjoyed a remarkable run of form in recent months. He set a new record of 39 minutes, 19 seconds in June before breaking that record the next two weeks straight.

His best time is now 36 minutes, 10 seconds.

"I'm delighted with that," Mr Carlin said.

Picton parkrun event director Peta Davies said Mr Carlin was an "inspiration" to other club members.

"It's inspiring to see Robert turn up week after week, doing his best," she said.

Mr Carlin said he received tremendous support from his fellow club members.

"Everyone is so encouraging to me as I'm going along," he said. "People often pass me on their return run and they yell out their support to me, encouraging me not to slow down."

Mr Carlin, 38, was there for Picton parkrun's launch in April 2018.

Mr Carlin said he had significantly improved his times since his parkrun debut.

He set a new wheelchair course record with a time of 44 minutes, 57 seconds last April.

"I've been getting quicker each time," he said.

He said he was forced to take a break from competing due to a kidney issue earlier this year.

"Unfortunately my health deteriorated and I had to get my left kidney taken out," he said.

"I gave myself only seven weeks to recover and I got straight back into it in April."

Mr Carlin was born with spina bifada, which meant his spinal cord failed to develop properly.

He has been in a wheelchair since he was 15 years old but said he had always loved to be active.

Mr Carlin said he decided to join parkrun last year for a "bit of fitness".

"I did CrossFit a couple of years ago and decided to get back into fitness last year," Mr Carlin said.

"I enjoy the social side of parkrun - it's exercise - and I try to do better times each week. It's been a fun experience."

Picton parkrun is held every Saturday morning from 8am on the bike track behind the Picton Bowling Club car park.