Want a great workout that gets the heart rate up and the endorphins rushing, done and dusted early on a Saturday, leaving you free to get on and enjoy the rest of your weekend?
Well, look no further than your local parkrun.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned runner or a total newbie (you don’t even have to run, you can walk!), parkrun is literally for everyone. The young and the old, the fast and the slow, on two legs, four or being pushed in a buggy, everyone is welcome.
And what a friendly welcome it is. That’s the thing that might strike you first – just how happy and friendly everyone is, even in super-cold wintery conditions, it’s smiles and chitter chatter all round.
Before the run starts, there’s a little gathering and welcoming for first timers (who also get a briefing on the course so they know what to expect).
Then there’s a celebration of any milestones – a round of applause for those doing their 50th parkrun, for example. And we see if there are any ‘parkrun tourists’ to say hi to… so far, in my local parkrun, we’ve had parkrun tourists from the USA, Canada, the UK, Denmark and South Africa.
These are people who participate at home, and are travelling to Australia… that’s one of the beauties of the run, you register at home and you can run at any of the events all around the world.
But first, in case you don’t yet know what parkrun is all about, here’s a quick snapshot:
- a FREE 5km course in a local park or parkland setting
- held every Saturday morning, usually at 7am
- run by volunteers (and funded by sponsors)
- timed, so you can see your results every week
- safe; the courses are all held in local parks where no roads need to be crossed by the runners
It’s SUCH a fantastic initiative that it’s hard not to get evangelical about it.
If parkrun was a religion, I would pray at it’s alter haha. And our god would be Paul Sinton-Hewitt, the man who had the original idea in the UK, back in 2004; his objective was to provide a fun, safe and free run for everyone in the community. And that’s just what parkrun continues to deliver, just on a much bigger scale!
13 – the number of runners at that inaugural event in the UK 12 years ago
14 – the number of countries around the world (including Australia, yippee) that now participate in parkrun
500,000+ yep, more than half a million people now parkrun
Interested in parkrun?
Well why wouldn’t you be? Jump online and register (here if you’re in Australia). You get your own barcode that you print and take with you.
I put mine in my phone case so I never forget it. At the end of your run, you get given a token at the finish line. You take your token and your barcode to a volunteer to scan, which is how they allocate your time to your name, which they email to you later.
There are volunteers along the course so you don’t get lost (which would be impossible anyway, just follow the person in front, they know where they’re going), and even the odd photographer taking snaps of you in full stride. Everyone is really supportive, whether you’re one of the super-fast front-runners or slowly bringing up the rear.
A bit nervous? Don’t be. The only person you’re racing against is yourself, as you can see how your time (hopefully) improves week on week. On the ‘results’ email sent out on Saturday afternoon, you can also see where you were placed, by gender and age bracket, and your PB. It’s actually hugely motivating.
Give it a go, I promise you’ll be bowled over by this wonderful weekly event. After you’ve done it a few times, why not give back to the parkrun community and volunteer every now and again?
Fitness should be all about fun, goals, progress and results, and parkrun has all this in spades.
Plus, it’s just so warm and fuzzy.
And it’s free.
parkrun – the pinnacle of Saturday morning sport. On ya, parkrun.