Sun. Jun 16th, 2024

Around the world people descend to their local running route on a Saturday with hundreds of other people to run 5km (3 miles). Some may find this out completely alien and would never think about running that distance let alone for fun on a weekend. However, around the world people do this and have a great time. So what is parkrun and has it brought a new crowd of runners that may never have been interested prior to hearing about the event?

History

In 2004, Zimbabwean born Londoner Paul Sinton-Hewitt finally brought together an idea that had been mulling around in his head for a while; a community time trial weekly running event. This was the seed and now parkrun is something else from the small event Sinton-Hewitt started it.

After three years of the one event, 2007 brought the second parkrun (called Bushy Park Time Trial) and in 2008, the parkrun name was created!

From just one small running event in London has now spread across the world.

Where can you do a parkrun?

Parkrun has over 20,000 events across 23 countries and 5 continents. Countries such as Denmark, Austria and Netherlands; there may even be plenty of Dutch betting going on between friends!

Many parks, university campuses and promenades (including many other amazing venues) can host the weekly running event. Across the world there are stunning courses filled with runners, volunteers and spectators who come together as a community for the event.

Who can take part?

Anyone! There is no issue with who wants to do it, young or old can take part. Even if you chose to walk the 5km then you can still do that with a marshal at the back of the crowd making sure you are okay doing it.

Disabilities are no issue as well with blind runners and wheelchair users taking part in the event each weekend.

Parkrun has even become popular with junior runners and in the UK an event just for junior runners on a Sunday has been set up. Aimed at 4–14-year-olds who might not be able to do the whole 5km, they take part in just under half that distance; 2km.

Is the environment encouraging?

The whole parkrun community environment makes it very inviting and much more appealing to participate in. With people there to encourage, help and participate against (even if parkrun does not advertise itself as a competitive event) it is certainly more interesting doing a run this way than just trudging along on your own.

With a barcode system to help you track how many events you have participated in, the time you achieved, your grade in that event and much more details that is good to observe.

Has parkrun encouraged more runners to get involved in running?

The event is now 17 years old and as of 2019 6,301,016 had taken part over that time. With the pandemic there was a slow uptake back to the event following its return in the summer of 2021, but numbers have steadily been growing again with the restrictions being relaxed.

Parkrun is a great way to stay fit and keep an eye on how your running is going. With a great community spirit and sometimes a free coffee after, parkrun should be celebrated by many people including politicians who could promote the event as a way of building a healthier nation.

By admin