Parkrun – What’s the big deal?

TheBoldAge explores this social running phenomenon

Published by Steve Foreman on Sep 09, 2020

Now that Parkrun have announced they are restarting towards the end of October in the UK, we can all dust off our running gear and prepare for the fun social event of the weekend. Yes you did hear right we did say fun and social.

For the un-intiated just what is Parkrun and why as boldies and over 50 should we be even remotely interested.

In a nutshell it’s a 5km timed running event, hold on don’t click away because it is so, so much more.

Parkruns are held at 9am on a Saturday morning, are free to enter and run by volunteers. Absolutely anyone can take part. Older people to small children, people with their dogs or pushchairs, people with disabilities as well as club runners to those trying to shed some pounds. People socialise before, during and after. There are walkers as well as runners and everyone is cheered on by the team of volunteers and fellow parkrunners. There is always a Tail Walker who accompanies the slowest person so you will never be last!

Today there are parkruns in 1,400 locations in 23 countries across 5 continents, with over 5 million registered runners.

Parkruns are not always held in a park. They can be held in stately homes, castles, forests, promenades and even prisons. The level of difficulty can vary depending upon the surface and how many hills are part of the course!

It’s very simple to take part, register online, print your personal barcode and you’re good to go. If you make it known it is your first, a fellow runner will explain the basics. Just ensure you arrive a few minutes before the stated start time, as the Run Director will carryout a quick safety briefing and mention any individuals who are reaching their personal milestones of 25, 50, 100, 250 parkruns, but the biggest cheer is always kept for the volunteers who really make these events. Then its off to the start line, to wait for the ‘GO!’.

People make their way round at their own pace and marshals are placed around the course to direct and encourage everyone. Each walker/runner’s time is recorded at the end and uploaded to the parkrun website. If you opt in you will get an email informing you of your time, if it was a Personal best, the number of runs completed, your age grade result and position relative to others.

I can testify it’s a very much a social fun event, with a great community spirit, often with a cup of coffee (and occasionally cake!) to be had afterwards where you can discuss and compare notes, reflecting with satisfaction that you have burnt lots of calories, all by 10am!

Parkrun has become so popular that people travel to other locations to try different courses and some participate in runs whilst they are on holiday or working elsewhere.

No matter where you live, there is likely to be a parkrun near you. Give it a go, you won’t regret it and you’ll be welcomed with open arms by your local group.

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