Parkrun is one of those magical events which has managed to transform those living a sedentary lifestyle to being full time fitness fanatics with a love for running. They can be found pretty much anywhere in the UK and are popping up around the world! Just check out this map to see where you can Parkrun!
What is Parkrun?
Parkrun is a 5km run which typically takes place around a park. They are free weekly timed runs open to everyone and take place in safe, open environments. Parkrun starts at 9 am every Saturday morning and is a great way to get to know other people and runners in your area. You can run with a friend, run with your dog or even run with a pram (when I was around 13 I remember feeling rather embarrassed when a man outran with a pram). Children can run, provided that those under the age of 11 are within arms reach of a parent (yes parents, you’re going to have to run too!) and some Olympic athletes even take part! The men’s record for Parkrun is held by Andrew Baddeley, an Olympic athlete who came 8th in the 1500m final in Beijing 2008. His time for the Parkrun is 13:48 and has remained unbeaten since 2012.
Parkrun is run solely by volunteers and has many partners and sponsors who help to support the event so that it can run for free every week.
When my local Parkrun first started in 2011, there were 104 people – as of 24th July 2018, our largest attendance has been 607 people (unsurprisingly, shortly after the new year when people set their new year’s resolutions). There are just so many runners that another Parkrun 2.8 miles away was set up a few months ago to reduce the number of runners and congestion of the park during this time!
Why should I Parkrun?
What are the main reasons for doing a Parkrun?
- Encourages you to be active and lead a healthier lifestyle
- Amazing community spirit
- Free for everyone
- Anyone can do it
- There’s a Parkrun pretty much everywhere (in the UK)
- You can track your progress
Parkrun Gets You Active
If you need a little push to start running or exercising more, Parkrun is the place to go. You don’t have to run it all, you can jog or walk parts of it, the emphasis is on taking part! The quickest runners taking part will complete the course in sub 15 minutes, but usually, there is always a tail runner who will stay with the last person until they have completed the course and will keep you company and give you the motivation to do the 5km!
The Parkrun Community is Amazing
People Parkrun to keep fit, motivate others or just to see how fast they can run. From my experiences, everyone there is very encouraging and motivating and there are always people to talk to about how your run went and how you’re looking to improve. Some people like to come for the social aspect which is great as they are keeping themselves fit whilst enjoying themselves!
Parkrun is Free
So, if you’re not doing anything that day… why not come along? 🙂
Anyone can Parkrun
Whether you are 5 years old or 100 years old, healthy or overweight, disabled or have recently suffered from a heart condition, you can do the Parkrun. In fact, Parkrun is quite popular with older and overweight adults as they feel more like they can get involved with such a supportive community. Each week Parkrun sends out a newsletter, often with an inspirational story about one of their runners and there have been many success stories about people whose lives have changed through Parkrun.
Parkrun is Everywhere (in the UK)
When you are at home, you may as well pop down Saturday morning, 9 am and Parkrun if you haven’t got any other plans. Even while you are away, on holiday or off working you can Parkrun! All you need to do is bring your barcode with you and run at another event you can find. If there’s one nearby and you can make it, there’s no excuse not to do it!
You can Track your Progress
On your own part of the Parkrun site, your parkruns are all listed with times next to them and an age grade which tells you how well you did relative to those in your age group. Over time, you can track your progress and see how you improve from year to year (it seems like a long time, but once you get park running, a year is nothing)!
Some people I know love to do Parkrun, and do it every week without fail whilst others will happily go around jumping into other Parkruns just to enjoy a new trail or course to run on, with new people to run against.
You can even obtain free shirts by completing 50, 100, 250 and even 500 Parkruns!
If you don’t feel like running one weekend, but want to get involved you could either come down and spectate or volunteer and support your local event! They ask that you try and volunteer 3 times a year to give back to your local Parkrun and there’s even another free purple Parkrun shirt you can get by volunteering on 25 separate occasions.
How Do I Get Involved?
It’s simple! Select register on the Parkrun site and fill in your details. Then print out a barcode which is unique to you and bring it along with you do your Parkrun. At the end of the Parkrun, you will be given another barcode with your position on it. A scanner will then scan the barcode with your name on it followed by the barcode with your position on it and you’re done!
If you want to volunteer, simply email your local Parkrun asking if you can volunteer and what you would like to help out with.
Do you do Parkruns? Or are you thinking of getting involved? Let me know down below!