Whether you love or hate running, the 5K park run trend will change the way you view the sport forever!
Saturday mornings have changed. Gone are lie-ins and lazy breakfasts. Out are mornings in the gym or days nursing a hangover. For fit fans worldwide, a 5K walk, jog or run around a park is much more en vogue. Rain, shine, sleet – the weather hasn’t deterred this Saturday morning trend from turning into a global phenomenon. What are we talking about? One word – parkrun.
In case you didn’t get the memo, parkruns are 5K timed runs that take place in parks nationwide. The concept comes from humble beginnings: it’s the brainchild of runner, Paul Sinton-Hewitt. Suffering from a long-term injury in 2004, Sinton-Hewitt found he was struggling to keep in touch with fellow joggers, so he organised a 5K timed run around Bushy Park in London. Back then, 13 runners took part in the event; today, over 2.1 million people are registered parkrunners. ‘parkrun has grown to more than 800 events across 11 countries,’ explains Glen Turner, head of communications at parkrun UK. ‘Around 10,000 volunteers make the events happen each weekend. And this includes the rapidly expanding junior parkrun series, which is a 2K timed run for 4-14 year-olds.’
Mums with buggies, dads with sons, walkers, dog owners, club runners, jogging groups – a huge variety of fitbies with different activity levels take part in parkrun events. Never before has running been so inclusive. ‘The recipe for success behind the parkrun model has been its ability to break down barriers to participation,’ adds Turner. ‘Events are held at the same time, at the same place, every weekend throughout the year. They’re free to take part in and require no specialist equipment or bib numbers – you simply register at before your first run, print your barcode and then away you go!’
It really is that simple. And while plenty of people do test their 5K speed, the emphasis at every parkrun event is on participation and community rather than performance. You can’t be too slow, young, old, fast, inexperienced or frightened to do these events – everyone will support you in your ambition to ace a 5K.
From boosting our faith in the human race to giving us major bragging rights on holiday – there are so many reasons why the parkrun rocks. Here are just a few of them. Put on your trainers now!
IT’S EASIER TO KEEP FIT ON HOLIDAY
The ultimate fear for any fitness fan is that exercise gains will dissipate on weekend breaks or fortnight-long trips. That was until parkrun events knocked on the door of countries worldwide. Whether you want to do a parkrun while visiting Aunt Jane in Australia or simply stay on top of your 5K goals when weekending in Scotland, your barcode is valid at any parkrun worldwide on any weekend. No excuses.
YOU’LL JOIN A CLUB OF HEROES
It doesn’t matter whether you walk with your five-year-old or run for the county, one of the overriding rules for long-term fitness is to set a goal. Join parkrun and you’ll be rewarded for your efforts. parkrunners who complete 50, 100, 250 or 500 events get a milestone t-shirt. The only way to get a t-shirt is to do the set number of events, so you’re joining an exclusive club of keenos.
IT’LL RESTORE YOUR FAITH IN HUMANITY
Each parkrun event is initiated and coordinated by a bunch of local volunteers who wake up early on a Saturday morning to support your goals. The whole premise of a parkrun relies on as much as 10,000 amazing people who are willing to give up their time for others. Kudos to that.
BECAUSE THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE
We’ve said time and time again that keeping fit needn’t cost a penny, and the parkrun success proves that. Every parkrun event is 100 per cent free of charge. It works because the brand relies on sponsors and the goodwill of volunteers. Don’t just run a parkrun; volunteer at events and you might get a Volunteer 25 milestone t-shirt.
YOU’LL START THE WEEKEND FEELING GREAT
Exercise is good for the body, mind and soul. Exercising at 9am on a Saturday while millions of others sleep is even better! A parkrun isn’t about how fast you can run – or even whether you can run at all – it’s about going outside, doing something positive and making the most of your weekend. You won’t regret it.