#Parkrun is a trending hashtag on Twitter today, probably helped by a combination of better weather and the London Marathon. So, what is it and how did it start?
The international @parkrun page simply says: “The world’s biggest running event. Our mission is to create a healthier & happier planet” and the Parkrun UK Twitter description sums it up well: Free, weekly, timed 2k & 5k events every Saturday & Sunday mornings – walk, jog, run or volunteer! The idea is simple – volunteers are organising community runs in public parks all over the world.
All ages are encouraged to attend, with many experienced runners taking their children along, older veteran runners enjoying the atmosphere and beginners taking the opportunity to run in a group. Your run is officially timed so that you can work on beating your PB and comparing your time with friends family and the rest of the running community.
Obviously, more people turn up when the weather is good, and the weather in the UK is glorious today! Running and jogging is healthy, and a very effective way to lose weight.
Where Did It Start?
The first Parkrun was held in Bushy Park, London in October 2004 and comprised of 13 runners and four volunteers. In the first run the results were recorded on paper and the finish tokens were washers from a local hardware store!
Denmark followed in May 2009, then Australia (April 2011), Poland and South Africa (November 2011), New Zealand (May 2012), USA (June 2012), Ireland (November 2012), Russia (March 2014), Singapore (June 2014), Italy (May 2015), France (June 2015), Canada and Sweden (August 2016), Norway (August 2017), Finland (October 2017), and Germany (December 2017).
Today, hundreds of thousands of people run every weekend. There are currently (April 2018 data) 1450 parks that have held 212,751 runs. There are almost 2.9 million registered runners.
How To Join a Parkrun
Joining a Parkrun could not be easier – the main Parkrun website lists all the countries that are currently involved here: Parkrun countries. If your country is on the list, there is a run somewhere! Go to your country website and register to create your running account. Then find your nearest event – there is a map search feature.
It is FREE. This is why it is so popular. It is a volunteer led outdoor exercise program, that is now sponsored by Strava. You don’t pay to join in, all you need is some running shoes, suitable clothes and the desire to get fitter and be healthier!
For juniors, those aged between 4 and 14 years, there is a junior version that is a 2km course, but children can run in the 5km races if accompanied by an adult.
Some of the Runners
As mentioned, there are almost 2.9 million runners, so too many to mention here! But some runners have recently shared on Twitter their Parkrun progress and experiences: