Parkrun – all you need to know

Here is a brief run down of all you need to know about how to get started with Parkrun. At the end I’ve put a few useful links so just head straight there if you are short of time.

So what is Parkrun and who is it for? Well it’s a completely free 5K run community, which organises a weekly event in open spaces throughout the world. So if you happen to find yourself in Singapore one weekend there will be a Park Run there. Italy – no problem! There will be one there too.

It started in Bushey, UK with just 13 parkrunners and has now grown to over 2,300 events with 9 million registered parkrunners. But the principles haven’t changed – it’s fun, inclusive and completely free.

So what do you need to know?

The events map is a good starting point or a simple google search “where is the nearest park run to x”. Each event has it’s own website and here is an example of the Reading one. The runs usually starts at 9:00am and are held every Saturday come rain or shine. If for some obscure reason it is cancelled you can check on the website or you will receive a notification

Absolutely everyone is welcome. Children under 11 must be accompanied by an adult and there is also a shorter 2k parkrun held especially for children (2-14 years old). Head to the website to check your local 2k as it won’t necessarily be held in the same place as the 5k run.

Yes dogs are welcome too – one dog per adult and your four legged friend must be on a short hand held lead (so no racing harnesses).

Of course! This may be the most common question. Parkrun is very inclusive and there is no problem if you want to walk part or all of the way. They even have ‘tail walkers’ who walk round with you and make sure you will never be ‘last’. The main thing is to take part and you will find that the wonderful volunteers and the majority of the other runners will actively encourage you.

The course is well marked out and there will be several volunteer marshals at strategic spots. You will be able to see a map of the course on your local parkrun website (check out the Reading one as an example). The Event Director holds a briefing for new parkrunners at the start of every parkrun so get there 15 minutes early before your first one. You can always ask a volunteer too (they will normally be wearing a dayglo vest to identify themselves).

Yes there are marshals at strategic points and the tail walker ensures you wont be left behind.

No – there will be a first aid kit but you will need to bring your own water.

There is no specific drop point but people leave a coat or a water bottle at the start or finish where there will always be people milling around. Don’t leave your phone behind – this can normally be stuffed in a pocket or a running vest.

We run! Well most of the time – it’s always a good idea to check the local parkrun site but the event will only be cancelled if the Event Director decides that there is likely to be danger to the runners.

As you cross the line your time is logged and you will be directed down a funnel – keep the order you finished in – and at the end of the funnel you will be presented with a finish token. You will see several volunteers who will scan your barcode (that’s why it’s important to carry it with you or have it on your phone) and then scan your finish token. Don’t forget to hand the finish token back! You will receive a text and an email with your finish time an position normally within a few hours.

This is really important and is incredibly rewarding. No volunteers means no event. Parkrun rely totally on their volunteers and it is good fun too. At the finish line you will be able to find the organiser who will add your name to the roster.

And here are the links I promised:

Parkrun main site (to register)

Your local Parkrun site (here is the one for Cheltenham as an example) google search “local park run in name of town