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Parkrun (stylised as parkrun) is the name given to a collection of five-kilometre running events that take place every Saturday morning in nineteen countries across five continents. Junior Parkrun is a spin-off event which provides a 2 km run for children aged 4–14 weekly on a Sunday morning.
The first Parkrun event to launch was the Bushy Parkrun, which was founded by Paul Sinton-Hewitt in 2004. Originally called the Bushy Park Time Trial, it was renamed Parkrun in 2008. The first event outside of the United Kingdom was launched in Denmark in 2009. Events take place in a range of general locations including city parks, country parks, national parks, stately homes, castles, forests, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, beaches, promenades, prisons, racecourses and nature reserves. As of 19 April 2018 there were close to 4.5 million registered runners.
Parkrun events are free to enter and are run by volunteers, supported by a small group of staff at its headquarters. In order to receive a time, runners are required to register online in advance for a unique athlete number and to print their own identification barcode for use when taking part. The results of each event are processed and uploaded online by volunteers. Parkrun has been noted for attracting participants with a wide range of abilities. Parkrun's mission statement is "a healthier and happier planet".
- 1 History
- 2 Participation
- 3 Volunteers
- 4 Events
- 5 Technology
- 6 Milestone clubs
- 7 Statistics
- 8 Relations with local authorities
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 Notes
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
The first Parkrun event to launch was the Bushy Parkrun, which was founded by Paul Sinton-Hewitt in 2004. Originally called the Bushy Park Time Trial, it grew into a small collection of events called the UK Time Trials. In 2007, the second event was launched at Wimbledon Common, while the first outside of London was launched in Leeds later that year. The UK Time Trials were renamed Parkrun in 2008. The first event outside of the United Kingdom was launched in Denmark in 2009.
Events now take place every week in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Singapore, the Czech Republic, the United States, Italy, France and Germany. Parkruns have previously been operated in Zimbabwe and Iceland. There was also formerly a Parkrun at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, which was operated by Parkrun UK. 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), 70,000 in April 2014 (386 events), and more than 100,000 by April 2016 (more than 730 events).
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.
By 24 December 2015, there were over two million registered Parkrunners globally, together having done over 12.5 million runs, with one million instances of volunteering. Come December 2016, Parkrun "athlete" number 3,000,001 had been issued, representing over 2,000,000 participants with runners using over 1,000 parks worldwide. On 3 November 2017. The current registrant mark 19 April 2018 is very close to 4.5 million.
A 2013 article in The Guardian noted the rapid growth of Parkrun and suggested this was mainly due to its simplicity and accessibility: runners register online once, turn up at any event, and run. Inclusivity is also a factor, as participants have a wide range of running abilities, from fast club runners to those walking, a wide range of ages from children running with their parents to the elderly, also allowed are wheelchair users, those pushing buggies and people running with their dog. Participation is free of charge, funded through sponsorships and grants, and staffed locally by volunteers.
A 2015 qualitative study by the University of Loughborough found that runners attending a Parkrun for the first time were typically motivated for weight loss or an improvement in their physical fitness. On the other hand, there were a range of different motivations for runners to continue regularly taking part, with runners wanting to beat their personal record time, to reach a certain number of runs and join a milestone club, to enjoy being outdoors at the park, to make new friends through volunteering or to meet existing friends or family for the run.
Each Parkrun event is run entirely by volunteers. To assist the volunteers, Parkrun HQ provides the necessary equipment and there are several different volunteer roles at each Parkrun event. 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 Parkrun function sustainably.
Parkrun is held in the 22 different countries listed below as of July 2018.
Main events (5km)
Junior events (2km)
These events are weekly, free, 2 km running events for runners aged 4 to 14, parents are allowed to run with their children but aren't eligible for a placed finish. Juniors who have completed 11, 21 or 50 junior runs are awarded a coloured wristband.
|Country||Locations||Cite||First event location||First event date|
|United Kingdom||233||||Bushy Park||1 April 2010|
|Ireland||15||||Rush, Dublin||13 December 2015|
|Australia||3||||Southport, Queensland||22 April 2018|
Events take place in a range of general locations (that need not actually be a park), including city parks, country parks, national parks, stately homes, castles, forests, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, beaches, promenades, prisons, racecourses and nature reserves. The runs have different degrees of difficulty, with hilly runs harder to complete than those that are flat. The running surface varies with many city park Parkruns being run on tarmac footpaths, closed roads, grass or a mixture of all three, while forest and country park Parkruns are more likely to be on trails. The weather affects the difficulty of the course with trail runs more liable to be affected by mud or leaves than runs on tarmac paths. Runs that take place in hotter countries often start early in the morning to avoid excess heat and runs in snowier climates have a course chosen to minimise the affect of the snow.
Parkrun tourists travel especially to seek out new runs. Runners when they sign up on the Parkrun website are asked to pick a "Home Parkrun", usually the one they live closest to and are likely to frequent most. Parkrun tourism is broadly defined as anyone travelling to a run that isn't their home Parkrun. Parkrun tourism can involve running in a neighbouring park, town, region or even country with some runners travelling to a different run every week. Tourism can take different forms for example running every Parkrun in London or running a Parkrun starting with every letter of the alphabet or running the first event of each new parkun.
Parkrun makes extensive use of electronic timekeeping. When registering with Parkrun, runners are requested to print out a personal barcode which contains their unique athlete number and is to be taken to the run. As runners cross the finish line their time is recorded electronically by a volunteer and they are given a place number tag, runners then take their place number tag and barcode to another volunteer who scans both. The results are then uploaded to the Parkrun website.
Website and results
The results are uploaded to the Parkrun web site which also generates a number of statistics. The results available are finishing position for both male and female runners, the time taken to complete the run, whether or not a personal best time has been run, the total number of runs completed by an individual, their age grade result and their position in relation to other veteran or junior runners.
The number of runs by each participant at all events is recorded and available online. When a runner reaches a certain number of runs they join a "Milestone club". There are five different clubs to which a runner can belong: the '10 Club' for runners aged 17 or below who have completed 10 or more runs, and the '50 Club', '100 Club', '250 Club' and '500 Club' for anyone who has completed that number of runs. Anyone in the world entering a 'club' is awarded a free colour coded T-shirt with a number on the back to represent the club they are in. The T-shirts are colour coded as follows; 10 runs for white; 50 runs for red; 100 runs for black; 250 runs for green, and 500 runs for a blue T-Shirt. There is also a purple T-shirt for those that have been a volunteer 25 times or more.
Parkrun statistics are collected globally and locally for each country represented. As of 25 April 2018 the combined worldwide statistics for all events is as follows;
- There are 1451 different Parkruns
- There have been 213,979 individual events
- The total number of runners is 2,912,609
- There have been 352,633 volunteers
- There have been 34,259,260 completed runs
- The total distance run is 166,738,961 km
- The total time run is 1,959yrs 83days 0hrs 39mins 29secs
- The biggest attendance at any single run is: 2,526 (20 January 2018, 'North Beach Parkrun' in Durban, South Africa).
Individual running records
- Female record holder (running): Hannah Walker (15:55, set at St Albans Parkrun on 27 July 2013),
- Male record holder (running): Andy Baddeley (13:48, set at Bushy Park Parkrun on 11 August 2012) 
- Female record holder (running assisted): Elaine Sherwin (15:13, set at Kingsbury Water Parkrun on 11 February 2017 with a canicross dog ),
- Male record holder (running assisted): Ben Robinson (13:23, set at Penrose Parkrun on 12 August 2017 with a canicross dog) 
- Female record holder (wheelchair): Lizzie Williams (15:27, set at Dulwich Parkrun)
- Male record holder (wheelchair): Danny Sidbury (12:12, set at Dulwich Parkrun on 19 March 2016) 
- Age-graded record holder: Fauja Singh (179.04%, set when finishing Valentines Parkrun in 38:34 on 31 March 2012, the day before his 101st birthday)
- Global record holder for most number of runs is Darren Wood with 650 runs
- Global record holder - most number of different events - Paul Fielding - 390 different Parkrun locations 
Junior Parkrun statistics
As of 23 January 2017, the combined worldwide statistics for all junior events was as follows:
- 143 locations
- 9,035 events
- 98,746 runners
- 685,281 runs
- 1,370,562 km run
Most events are run with support from local authorities; a few isolated conflicts have received media coverage.
In September 2011, 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.
Due to its policy of keeping its runs free to enter, Parkrun has refused to start events if the local council charges the organisers or runners. In April 2016, the parish council in Stoke Gifford (a suburb of Bristol) voted to charge runners a fee to participate in the local Parkrun, to fund path maintenance. The event had begun, with the council's permission, in Little Stoke Park in November 2012. Despite support from the Sports Minister and an online petition, the council would not change its decision, so the remaining planned 2016 events were cancelled. In April 2017 the British Government announced that local councils in England would not, in future, be allowed to charge free fun runs for the use of a public park.
- Tom Williams (6 January 2017). "We've only just begun". parkrun. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
- Kate Carter (25 April 2018). "Parkrun makes us fitter, but can it make us happier as well?". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
- Cieszyn Parkrun is run partly in Poland and partly in the Czech Republic "Parkrun Poland". Retrieved 15 August 2015.
- Runners World – Heroes of Running Archived 29 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Queen's birthday honours list 2014: GCB, DBE and CBE". The Guardian. 13 June 2014.
- Parkrun historical chart Archived 24 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
- Clare Stevinson. "Understanding people's motivations for taking part in parkrun". National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine.
- 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 Archived 13 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Volunteering: All you need to know about volunteering at parkrun events". Parkrun. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
- "parkrun www.parkrun.org.uk". baRUNNER. 7 December 2013. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
- http://www.parkrun.com/countries Parkrun country list
- "parkrun UK". Parkrun.
- "parkrun Australia". Parkrun.
- "parkrun South Africa". Parkrun.
- "parkrun Ireland". Parkrun.
- "parkrun Poland". Parkrun.
- "parkrun Russia". Parkrun.
- "parkrun New Zealand". Parkrun.
- "parkrun USA". Parkrun.
- "parkrun Canada". Parkrun.
- "parkrun Italy". Parkrun.
- "parkrun France". Parkrun.
- "parkrun Germany". Parkrun.
- "parkrun Denmark". Parkrun.
- "parkrun Sweden". Parkrun.
- "parkrun Singapore". Parkrun.
- "parkrun Norway". Parkrun.
- "parkrun Finland". Parkrun.
- "Jersey parkrun - Weekly Free 5km Timed Run".
- "Guernsey parkrun - Weekly Free 5km Timed Run".
- "parkrun Malaysia".
- "Junior parkrun". Parkrun.
- Amy Fenton (8 November 2017). "HMP Haverigg inmates went on the run this weekend". The Mail.
- Simon Doyle (18 December 2017). "Magilligan prisoners to get their own parkrun". The Irish News.
- "TimeOut – Bushy Park Time Trial". Archived from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 21 April 2008.
- 2008 Reuters' article about Parkrun
- 2010 Reuters' article about Parkrun
- "Welcome to parkrun". Parkrun. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
- "Course Records". Parkrun UK.
- "Course Records". Parkrun UK.
- "Course Records". Parkrun UK.
- "Course Records". Parkrun UK.
- "Dulwich parkrun Sub 20 Women". Parkrun UK. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
- "Dulwich parkrun # 209 - 19/03/2016". Parkrun UK.
- "Parkrun - Our Clubs".
- "Parkrun - Our Clubs".
- "junior Parkrun". Parkrun UK. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
- "Weekly park running race banned by council on safety grounds". WalesOnline. 21 March 2013. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
- "How Parkrun became a global phenomenon". The Independent. 28 December 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
- "Council votes to charge Parkrun for Little Stoke event". Retrieved 13 April 2016.
- "Little Stoke parkrun # 1 - 03/11/2012". Parkrun UK.
- "Minister backs free Parkrun after Stoke Gifford furore". BBC News. 21 April 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
- "Ban on council park fun run fees proposed in England". BBC. 15 April 2017.
- UK events currently also includes those for Jersey and Guernsey (which are not in the UK); the total for the UK has been reduced accordingly.
- South Africa events currently also include those for Namibia and Swaziland, the total for South Africa has been reduced accordingly.
- Includes Cieszyn Parkrun which starts in Poland but is run partly in the Czech Republic
- Bourne, Debra (2014). Parkrun: much more than just a run in the park. Chequered Flag Publishing. ISBN 9780956946072.
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