Parkrun Community Running
Your local Parkrun event is a 5-kilometre race that anyone can participate in regardless of their ability; they’re free to enter and will usually take place in pleasant parkland and can sometimes pass a thousand entrants.
At any Parkrun you will see people from all walks of life and all levels of running ability, ranging from school children to old age pensioners and local athletes to famous Olympians.
Sometimes an event organizer might arrange for a celebrity to come along to spice things up. The rules aren’t set in stone, apart from the distance, which is 5K wherever in the world the Parkrun is taking place. Oh, and you must run on a Saturday. The only exception being if you’re a junior then you can run 2K on a Sunday.
Parkrun started in 2004 when Paul Sinton-Hewitt gathered 13 friends together on a blustery day in Bushy Park, Teddington, England, United Kingdom. What Paul didn’t realize back then was how big the Parkrun family would grow and how far it would spread around the world. It’s now become a truly global event with Parkruns taking place in every developed nation from Japan to America and beyond. It goes to show how a little idea can grow into a phenomena that millions of people can benefit from.
Each course has its own record holder, with some people getting the bragging right of having entered over 100 races, which is an achievement to be rightly proud of. Personally I’ve done one or it might have been two? Shame on me, but I intend to put that right by the end of the year. I did have the Asics keyring and also a minature New Balance trainer to prove it, as they hand them out afterwards.
Parkrun has Grown From 13 Friends into a World Wide Phenomena
The great thing about Parkruns is that you are under no pressure to perform, only from yourself. Some people even walk round and have a chat with their friends while doing so. It’s the taking part what counts and this is what the organizers encourage.
There are plenty of categories to try and beat a record in. You will be surprised how many targets you can go for such as the best course time, then the best time for your age group. If you’re really serious you can try and break the national record. Not an easy feat, but still someone has to do it.
What’s so Special About 5K?
The reason 5 kilometres is chosen as the desired race length is that it’s right on the sweet spot of being long enough to test serious runners, while not being so hard that juniors and elderly people struggle or get injured. The whole point is that as well as being competitive, people come out to enjoy themselves so the last thing the organizers need is a queue for the medic.
5 kilometers is similar to doing a tempo run, where you test yourself once a fortnight and push yourself hard enough to see if you are improving.
How Do I Sign Up?
If you wish to enter a Parkrun, first of all find out where your local event takes place. There should be one within reasonable travelling distance unless you live in the middle of nowhere, but for most folks they are easy enough to find. Should you have a good way to travel, then perhaps you might find it easier if you travel with a friend and then take turns to share travelling costs.
You will need access to a computer to print out your barcode. After entering your details online, you are given a barcode that you take with you to the event. This is to log you onto the computer system and helps the organizers to make sure nobody cheats and all your times and dates are correct.
**It’s very important that you don’t register multiple times. If you have forgotten your login credentials then speak to the Parkrun staff. You won’t be able to run without a barcode so don’t turn up without one and expect to run, because they probably don’t have printing facilities on the day of the event. This is why you are asked to do it beforehand.
The Distances Run are Amazing
Parkrun participants have run a total of over 147 million kilometres. It’s hard to believe that starting out with an idea and thirteen friends, Paul Sinton-Hewitt has enabled people to run such a distance. Imagine how many endorphins have been released? Alternatively, think about how many calories have been burned, how many conversations have been had? There are some things that we can’t put a number on, but at the same time, we all know that the distances achieved are truly amazing.
PSH can rest assured he has achieved something he can be rightly proud of.
Parkruns might have only just had their fourteenth birthday, but it’s not an exaggeration to say that people will probably still be doing them in 1400 years from now, as long as people have two legs and a park to run in!
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- Middle-Distance Running
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- Long-Distance Running
Age-Graded Performance Calculator
It’s easy to time people against the clock and make judgement based on the timed result. However, as we get older a slower time might be more impressive if the person is a lot older. For example, if a twenty-year-old man run 5 kilometres in 18 minutes, but a sixty-year-old man run the same distance in 19 minutes, I’m sure we would agree that the older gentleman had the more impressive time.
In order to balance age and time out more effectively, people have come up with age-graded performance ratings and here is a link to such a calculator. They also take into account whether a person is male or female. All you need to do is enter your details and you will be given a performance rating.
The nearer you get to 100% the better you are doing. In fact, 100% is absolutely awesome for your age. Don’t beat yourself up if you are at the lower end of the spectrum. Have a mess about with the calculator yourself and see if it helps you monitor your progress. It’s the same method that Parkrun use to keep track of their top runners.
Link to age-graded running time calculator.
Have you Entered a Parkrun Event Yourself?
What did you think of it? Would you do it again? Let us know how you got on in the comment section below.
We’d love to hear your personal best time. I’d tell you mine, but I honestly can’t remember it.