What is parkrun
If you had a dictionary the definition of Parkrun would be - a free, timed, 5k run in pleasant parkland surroundings in thousands of locations around the world. They are open to everyone, are safe and easy to take part in. Just register on the dedicated website, print your personal barcode and away you go (this barcode is specific to you and valid at all parkrun’s worldwide).
The story began back in 2004 when 13 runners got together on a blustery day in Bushy Park in the UK; that run has now grown to an international family of over half a million runners each week (and counting). My own personal journey began on the 26th February 2011 at Willen Lake, Milton Keynes. My friend and I were out walking, in the vain attempt to get fit, and after weeks of watching runners come flying by I decided to take the plunge. I plucked up the courage to give it a go and my first memory was walking from the carpark to see all these fit athletic people warming up; I had obviously only ever seen the back runners on my previous travels 😊 and all I remember thinking was ‘Ok just run back to the car now!!!’
I decided that as I was there I would give it a go. Nobody knew me so I could always bail out half way round and never go back…no one would be any the wiser. Well I got through that first 5k and have never looked back since.
Milton Keynes parkrun is now such a success that it has grown from just over 100 runners a week in 2011 to over 500+ a week today.
In January 2016, I was visiting relatives in Leighton Buzzard and decided to go for a walk at Rushmere; that was where I came across a sign advertising the Rushmere Parkrun. Being a bit of a veteran (Parkrun veteran that is) I thought I would give it a go so on the 16th January my Rushmere Parkrun journey began. I soon became friends with Tam Quinn and Dave Ayres who both gave me some fun banter/encouragement and they asked which running club I belong to. Time and again I said I wasn’t with a running club and just happy to run on my own and turn up to Parkrun as and when I felt. Ok, so that didn’t last long and by October I had not only become a Run Director at Rushmere Parkrun, I joined LFR in November and was voted onto their committee in February. Then to go one step further in June of this year I have become the Co-Events Director at Rushmere Parkrun.
Who would have thought that back in Feb 2011 when I was only going to do the one run, I have now managed 172 Parkrun’s and volunteered 80 times and met loads of friends along the way.
Here is a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes so that people can run on a Saturday;
Keep eye on emails for volunteers that are offering to help (this is an ongoing process)
Tuesday/Wednesday - look at the roster for the coming Saturday and see if we need to send out an appeal for volunteers - if we do, an email/post on Facebook goes out and then it’s a case of sitting tight and hoping someone will fill a role…if they do the event can go ahead safely as planned.
Thursday/Friday - a reminder email goes out telling volunteers who the Run Director is and the times to meet at Rushmere. The Run Director also checks who has all the equipment and make sure it’s charged up and ready to go for Saturday.
Saturday – this is the day that matters!! Turn up an 8 o’clock for the pre-event walk round, check the course and put out all the safety signs. Meet all the volunteers in the car park for a briefing and then the marshal’s go off to their allocated positions, whilst the rest of us set up in the field waiting to see how many are going to turn up. This is always an amazing sight as we go from a couple of people milling about to 100 + in the blink of an eye. New runners get briefed separately, followed quickly by the run director’s talk to everyone on safety and Parkrun announcements. It’s then off to the start line where we count down and the runners are off. We wait at the finish line and cheer everyone round the 1st lap and then welcome them across the line on the 2nd. Once all the runners are back the fun/nerves set in as we have to record all the results (hoping that this week there isn’t going to be any gremlins in the system). Once all the results are processed the runners get an email with position and times. It’s then a case of putting a post on Facebook and keeping an eye on emails to see if anyone has a query with their time (thankfully that doesn’t happen to often).
Coffee time and then we start all over again.
If you haven’t tried the Parkrun experience then why not come along – just remember, don’t forget to register and bring your barcode.
No barcode......No time!!!
Tracy (TC) x