parkrun is the name given to a collection of 5 km running events that take place every week 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. parkrun juniors is a spin-off event which provides a 2 km run for juniors, once per month.
Bushy parkrun was the first to be held; it started in October 2004.
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. Events now take place every week in Australia, Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. Sinton-Hewitt was presented the Runner's World 'Heroes of Running' award for philanthropy for his work with parkrun in 2009.
On 20 April 2013 more than 35,000 runners took part in parkrun for the first time in the event's history; this just two weeks after 30,000 runners were first involved. Participation first exceeded 20,000 in August 2012 and first exceeded 10,000 in April 2011. On August 3rd 2013 numbers of parkrunners exceeded 40,000 for the first time, and on November 2, 2013 over 50,000 people did a parkrun.
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: 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 barcode scanner, who scans runners' personal barcodes and finishing chips, a finish token provider, who hands out finishing chips to each runner as they cross the line and a photographer, who takes pictures and uploads them to the parkrun 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
parkrun is sponsored by:
- adidas, a sports clothing manufacturer.
- Sweatshop, a chain of running clothing shops.
- Lucozade Sport, a sports drink manufacturer.
- PruHealth, a medical insurance company.
parkrun is supported by:
- London Marathon, The London Marathon.
- Three, mobile phone company.
- aql, mobile internet data network provider.
parkrun is also receiving a grant covering 2011-2012 from the Mayor of London's Sports Participation Fund.
Previous sponsors and supports have been:
- Nike, a sports clothing manufacturer, who sponsored parkrun for three years.
As of 9 September 2013, combined statistics for all events:
- Number of events: 24,096
- Average number of runs per athlete: 7.8
- Number of clubs: 2,900
- Number of runners: 399,662
- Average runs per event: 129.8
- Number of locations: 300
- Number of runs: 3,126,628
- Total distance: 15,633,140 km
- Total run time: 160 years, 296 days, 6 hours, 47 minutes, 50 seconds
- Female record holder: Hannah Walker (15:55, 27 July 2013, set at St Albans parkrun)
- Male record holder: Andrew Baddeley (13:48, 11 August 2012, set at Bushy parkrun)
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 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 a 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 September 2013 there were 300 parkrun events taking place, with events in Afghanistan (at Camp Bastion), Australia, Denmark, England, Northern Ireland, Poland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, South Africa, Wales, New Zealand, and USA. A full list of parkrun events is available at: http://www.parkrun.com/events. The majority of events are in England, and outside the UK, Australia has the most events, with 52 as of November 2013.
An isolated degree of conflict has sometimes arisen with local councils regarding parkrun's usage of public parks. 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 discussion with the council.
By May 2013 there were four 2km junior events, held once a month.
There are four different clubs to which a runner registered with parkrun can belong; the '10 club' for runners aged 19 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 entering a 'club' is given an Adidas T-shirt with a number on the back to represent the club they are in.
The T-shirts are colour coded: 10 (White); 50 (Red); 100 (Black); and 250 (Gold & Black).
As of 29 July 2013 there are only 48 runners in the '250 club'. The record holder is Darren Wood, with 441 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 8 September 2013.
- "parkrun FAQ". Retrieved 29 May 2012.
- "Where's my nearest event?". parkrun. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
- http://www.parkrun.org.uk/events/events/ Accessed 24 April 2013