parkrun is the name given to a collection of five-kilometre running events that take place every Saturday morning in several countries. All are free to take part in and require runners to register online in advance for a unique athlete number and to print their own identification barcode for use when taking part. Runners' results in each event are processed and uploaded online after the run by volunteers. Each registered runner has an individual page cataloguing the details of each event in which they have participated. junior parkrun is a spin-off event which provides a 2 km run for children aged 4–14 weekly on a Sunday morning.
Founded by Paul Sinton-Hewitt in 2004, the idea of parkrun grew from the initial Bushy parkrun event (originally called Bushy Park Time Trial) into a small collection of events called the UK Time Trials and then into parkrun (2010). Events now take place every week in Australia, Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. Zimbabwe and Iceland no longer offer parkruns. Sinton-Hewitt was presented the Runner's World 'Heroes of Running' award for philanthropy for his work with parkrun in 2009 and became a CBE in the Queen's birthday honours 2014 for 'services to grass roots sports participation'.
Global participation first exceeded 10,000 in April 2011 and 20,000 in August 2012. Neither participation nor event numbers show any sign of slowing with global participation first exceeding 30,000 in April 2013 (225 events), 40,000 in August 2013 (282 events), 50,000 in November 2013 (317 events), 60,000 in January 2014 (340 events) and 70,000 in April 2014 (386 events).
As at 31 December 2013, there were over 760,000 registered parkrunners across 10 countries. Just over 332,000 individuals did their first run with parkrun in 2013, taking the total number of individuals who have ever run with parkrun to 663,900. Just over 1.95 million runs were recorded in 2013 taking the total number of runs since it started in 2004 to 3.92 million runs. Making all this possible were the contributions of 42,800 unique volunteers who volunteered in excess of 180,000 times across 362 events or locations while delivering 14,015 events during the year. 153 new events were added in 2013. In May 2014 the 1,000,000 registrant mark was passed.
Each parkrun event is run entirely by volunteers who give their time freely to set up each event, time the runners, process the results and clear away afterwards. To assist the volunteers, parkrun HQ provides the volunteers with computer equipment, timing devices, barcode readers, signs and the web hosting of the results. There are several different volunteer roles at each parkrun event, including: a run director, who organises the volunteer team and speaks to the runners before they begin; marshals, whose role include offering direction and encouragement to runners; a timekeeper, who registers each runner's time as they finish; a finish tag provider, who hands out barcoded finish tags to each runner after they cross the line; a barcode scanner, who scans runners' personal barcodes and finish tags; a photographer, who takes pictures and uploads them to the parkrun event website.
Every event has a 'volunteer' page, with the same basic information about how to get involved as a volunteer, as well as crediting those who have made the effort in the most recent week. The parkrun website credits those who volunteer each week as "the heart" of parkrun, and integral to its not-for-profit status. It also provides a useful range of responses to commonly asked questions about volunteering, with information on each of the different roles, in its FAQ section. It is recommended that runners volunteer three times over the course of a year to help their local parkun function sustainably.
Each parkrun territory has its own sponsors. Sponsors may differ by country.
parkrun UK is sponsored by:
- Sweatshop, a chain of running clothing shops.
- PruHealth, a medical insurance company.
- London Marathon, The London Marathon.
- Three, mobile phone company.
- aql, mobile internet data network provider.
parkrun UK also received a grant covering 2011-2012 from the Mayor of London's Sports Participation Fund.
Previous sponsors and supporters in the UK have been:
- Nike, a sports clothing manufacturer, who sponsored parkrun for three years.
- adidas, a sports clothing manufacturer.
As of 14 January 2015, combined statistics for all events:
- Number of events: 53,974
- Number of runners: 875,574
- Number of locations: 560
- Number of runs: 7,691,419
- Total Distance: 38,239,013 km
- Total Run Time: 413Yrs, 219Days, 11Hrs, 25Mins, 0Secs
- Female record holder: Elaine Sherwin (15:43, set at Kingsbury parkrun on 20 December 2014)
- Male record holder: Andrew Baddeley (13:48, set at Bushy parkrun on 11 August 2012)
parkrun makes extensive use of electronic timing and barcode technology to generate the results of each event. When registering with parkrun, runners print out a personal barcode which encodes their unique athlete number. As runners cross the finish line, their time is recorded electronically by a volunteer using a stopwatch that can export data to a computer. The runner is also handed a barcoded tag which tells them their finish position. Runners then take the tag to a second volunteer who scans the runner's personal barcode and scans the barcode on their finish tag. This allows a computer system to record the finish position and identity of each runner.
The finish times and athlete numbers (with their finish position) are uploaded to a server which automatically generates the results tables and statistics on the parkrun web site. The use of the unique runner number allows the web site to collate historical data including personal bests, overall performance, total number of runs and to calculate the number of points earned.
The first event was held in Bushy Park in 2004. By early March 2014 there were 371 parkrun events taking place worldwide, including Afghanistan (at Camp Bastion, under the umbrella of parkrun UK). A list of international parkrun websites is available from the countries link on the parkrun site.
As of 14 December 2014, parkrun has 518 event locations in the following countries:
|United Kingdom||303 |
|South Africa||45 |
|New Zealand||8 |
|United States||3 |
- As the list of Australian events currently also includes those for Singapore, the total for Australia has been reduced accordingly.
An isolated degree of conflict has sometimes arisen with local councils regarding parkrun's usage of public parks. For example, Cardiff City Council suspended the parkrun after complaints that the pathway was completely blocked by runners, thus creating safety issues. The event was re-instated following further discussion with the council.
Junior parkrun Events
By May 2013 there were four 2km junior events, held once a month. In 2014, parkrun UK relaunched the junior parkrun series in the United Kingdom. These events are weekly, free, 2k running events taking place in pleasant parkland.
There are four different clubs to which a runner registered with parkrun can belong; the '10 club' for runners aged 17 or below who have completed 10 or more runs, and the '50 club', '100 club' and '250 club' for anyone who has completed that number of runs. Anyone in the UK entering a 'club' is given a T-shirt with a number on the back to represent the club they are in. So far, the cost of the T-shirts has been funded by sponsors and the T-shirts are free of charge to runners.
The T-shirts are colour coded: 10 (White); 50 (Red); 100 (Black); and 250 (Gold & Black).
As of 14 December 2014 there are 177 runners in the '250 club'. The record holder is Darren Wood, with 482 runs.
- "TimeOut – Bushy Park Time Trial". Retrieved 21 April 2008.
- 2008 Reuters' article about parkrun
- 2010 Reuters' article about parkrun
- Runners World – Heroes of Running
- parkrun historical chart http://www.parkrun.com/results/historicalchart
- Example from Durham parkun http://www.parkrun.org.uk/durham/news/2013/03/12/volunteer-roles/
- Bushy parkrun volunteer information http://www.parkrun.org.uk/bushy/volunteer/
- parkrun volunteer information http://www.parkrun.com/about/volunteers
- parkrun FAQ: volunteering http://support.parkrun.com/forums/21317146-Volunteering
- baRunner parkrun information http://www.barunner.org.uk/Event_parkrun.shtml
- "parkrun News". Retrieved 23 June 2011.
- "parkrun website – Home". Retrieved 14 January 2015.
- "parkrun FAQ". Retrieved 29 May 2012.
- "parkrun UK". parkrun. Retrieved 14 Dec 2014.
- "parkrun Australia". parkrun. Retrieved 14 Dec 2014.
- "parkrun South Africa". parkrun. Retrieved 14 Dec 2014.
- "parkrun Ireland". parkrun. Retrieved 14 Dec 2014.
- "parkrun Poland". parkrun. Retrieved 14 Dec 2014.
- "parkrun Russia". parkrun. Retrieved 14 Dec 2014.
- "parkrun New Zealand". parkrun. Retrieved 14 Dec 2014.
- "parkrun Denmark". parkrun. Retrieved 14 Dec 2014.
- "parkrun USA". parkrun. Retrieved 14 Dec 2014.
- "parkrun Australia". parkrun. Retrieved 14 Dec 2014.
- "Park Run 250 Club". parkrun. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- Bourne, Debra (2014). parkrun: much more than just a run in the park. Chequered Flag Publishing. ISBN 9780956946072.
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