Inspired by a close friend who recently confessed to being too scared to take part in her local parkrun, I wanted to share my views and hopefully convince a few runners who may also be feeling apprehensive!
For those of you who are not familiar with parkrun – this is a free, weekly 5km run/jog/walk taking place every Saturday morning in various locations around the world. All parkruns are organised by volunteers and the emphasis is very much on being an all-inclusive event, suitable for people of all abilities.
I completely understand why one might feel intimidated to take part in an organised run, and admittedly I have taken part in races that have a slightly ‘snobby’ atmosphere, which to be perfectly honest is something I have no time for. However, parkrun is not a race, and I can confirm that every parkrun I have been to has been extremely friendly. I can also confirm that it really is an all-inclusive event – those taking part include complete beginners, parents pushing buggies, club runners, dog walkers etc.
I recently took part in Clitheroe Castle parkrun. I turned up on my own not knowing anyone there, but it really didn’t matter – after the run, 3 people came over to introduce themselves to me, and throughout the run there is such a sense of community that it makes no difference whether you are running alone or as part of a group.
An argument that I have heard many times from Hortencia is “why would anyone want to get up that early on a Saturday?!” I don’t have a counter argument because I personally don’t feel that a 9am run is early. I view the ‘early start’ as an incentive to get out of bed and make the most of the weekend, rather than a tiresome chore. Saying that, I am one of the raging lunatics that often gets up at 5am (or earlier!) to run, purely because this is the only way that I can fit it around the working day. Plus, there are people who have completely different working patterns to me (e.g. night shifts) where of course the 9am start is indeed very early!
Another concern I have heard from Hortencia and others is that there are “too many people” at parkrun. Obviously this is completely dependent on which event you attend, and there are quite a few London based parkruns that have a high turnout. If you prefer running alone then it goes without saying that parkrun may not be of interest. However, I would be more than happy to recommend some more low key London/Surrey/Kent based parkruns – please do let me know!
I feel that parkrun is very underrated. I don’t mean that it has gone unrecognised because this is DEFINITELY not the case; parkrun has become a global phenomenon! If you really think about it, parkrun is an absolutely fantastic event, and I would go as far as to say that it has revolutionized the way that we look at running. There will always be a level of snobbery/elitism around every sport, but parkrun eliminates this.
What are your views on parkrun? Are you a regular parkrunner? Have you had a particularly positive or negative parkrun experience?
PS – An interesting read!
“parkrun UK teams up with GPS to prescribe running and active lifestyles to patients”