Parkrun – what?
All over the UK on Saturday mornings, thousands of people, old and young, male and female, head to their local park to take part in a parkrun. It’s a timed 5km run (or jog, or even walk) which is completely free of charge, thanks to sponsorship.
Where did it start?
It all started back in 2004, when Paul Sinton-Hewitt had the idea of a timed run, and on that first day, thirteen runners turned up in Bushy Park, London. There are now over 400 venues across the country, with around 100,000 participants in total. Bushy alone attracts over 1000 each week.
Famous Brits joining in
In the UK, many famous people have done a parkrun, including double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes, Olympic diver Tom Daley and BBC newsreader Sophie Raworth. Recently former heptathlete and Olympic gold medallist Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill turned up at a parkrun in her home city of Sheffield.
Parkrun is for everyone
But it’s also about ordinary people who come week in, week out, whether their PB (personal best) is 15 minutes or 50 minutes. Last year a photo was taken of Dawn Nisbet, a mother-of-two from Oldham, being the last finisher. The sheer joy on her face as she finished struck a chord with people, and the photo went viral. Dawn is a perfect example of how parkrun is for everyone. Many people who had never exercised for years are now getting off their sofas, getting fit and making new friendships.
Poland has joined the race
Parkrun now takes place in fourteen countries. But did you know that Poland is one of those countries? It started in Gdynia in 2011 and soon spread. There are now over 40 venues, from Augustów to Żary, and more are planned in the future. Poland has some way to go to catch up with the UK in terms of numbers, although the Poznań parkrun, which is the most popular in the country, was getting over 200 people a week last autumn.
How to join?
To participate in a parkrun, it’s very simple. Just register on the website, and you’ll get a printed barcode, which works for any parkrun all over the world. Then just turn up with your barcode and run. After you finish, you get a token with your position, which is then scanned along with your barcode. The scanning, timing and other important jobs are done by volunteers, who are recognisable by their bright yellow jackets. Without the volunteers, there would be no parkrun!
After the event is over, the results are uploaded to the website, so parkrunners can check their weekly progress. When certain milestones are completed (50, 100, 250 or
500 parkruns, plus 10 for juniors and 25 for volunteers) a runner is eligible for a special T-shirt.
Join in the fun
If you fancy taking part, head over to the website and get signed up. Saturday mornings will never be the same again. You may even bump into me as I’m a regular. But most important of all: #dfyb which stands for Don’t Forget Your Barcode!
Practice your English sport-related vocabulary