The parkrun is a free, weekly, 5k run held throughout the world. The runs take place on a Saturday morning at 9 am and are aimed at all levels. They are a great way to get out and start the weekend on a positive note, getting outside in the fresh air moving the body as we were intended do.
The ‘parkrun’ was first formed in 2004 in London and has grown from there, with runs now taking place through the UK and across the globe including Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, USA, and South Africa.
The good thing about these runs is that you can take them as seriously or as non-seriously as you like. You’ll often find people trying to beat a PB or racing friends, as well as people just casually jogging around whilst chatting or sometimes even pushing a pram around (as I found out once when a fella passed me on the home straight doing this, nearly as embarrassing as when Scooby Doo overtook me at the end of the Great North Run 2009).
The events are very well organised, with a one off registration online on the parkrun website. Upon registering, a bar code will be sent. This is all free of charge. The bar code can be used at any park run as many time as you like. Upon finishing the run your barcode will be scanned which will record the time, with all results updated on to the ‘parkrun’ website. This is a handy way of keeping track of your times and progress if you are looking to beat that 5k PB.
The runs are reliant on volunteers every week and wouldn’t be able to run (pun intended) without volunteers, so show your appreciation to those volunteering and maybe volunteer yourself sometimes to ensure your local run can continue.
I first became aware of the ‘parkrun’ a couple of years back when two or three of my friends started doing them, having went along, I thought it was a great way to get together on a Saturday morning. Now there are a group of roughly 15 of us who participate in these on a regular basis, with a core of 4 or 5 turning out practically every week.
Having asked what my friends like about the run, here’s an example of what they said:
Ian, 33, South Shields, Newcastle, Saltwell, and Riverside park runs – “Early morning exercise, back in the house for 10am with a feeling of accomplishment“
Graham, 33, South Shields, Newcastle, Saltwell, and Riverside park runs – “I like that I can meet my friends socially to do a nice run and be done by 10am. I also like that there are different runs on offer in a close radius”
Jak, 31, South Shields, Newcastle, Saltwell, and Riverside park runs – “Gives me a push I don’t always get running on my own”
Steve, 29, South Shields, Newcastle, Saltwell, and Riverside park runs – “Lasses in leggings”
Ian, 29, South Shields, Newcastle, Saltwell, and Riverside park runs – “Licence to do what you want for the rest of the weekend. Gets it out the way first thing. Quickest way to get rid of Friday hangover before the footy on Saturday”
Ali, 33, South Shields, Newcastle, Saltwell, and Riverside park runs (due to complete his 100th on the 1st April) – “It’s what Saturdays were made for, Parkrun then pub”
George, 59, South Shields, Newcastle, Saltwell, and Riverside park runs – “It’s all about the people you do it with”
David (Top Cat), 33, South Shields, Newcastle, Saltwell, and Riverside park runs – “It’s on every week and even if you’re away for the weekend or on holiday, chances are there’ll be one pretty close to you”
Rob, 34, South Shields, Newcastle, Saltwell, and Riverside park runs – “The excitement of getting a PB so you know you’re improving…….not that it’s happened in about a year like”
To further on Graham’s comment, in the North East of England alone there are several available, some of which are in parks, one is around a lake, and even right along the coast which makes for a great scenic route.
To find your nearest parkrun and to sign up for free, visit the site below.