Five things no one told you about parkrun

It’s not about the run

Yes it’s called parkrun but the highlight for most people comes afterwards as you hang out at the finish area and swap stories about your run. Whether you’ve run sub 17 or you tail walked, everyone has a story to share about their 5km.

Most events have a dedicated cafe or coffee cart, so you can extend the parkrun experience beyond the run course.

You don’t have to run

The name is deceptive, but you can walk parkrun. There are lots of people who walk, some with a dog (one per person, on a short lead), others with children, very rarely will you be alone.

If you’re a runner you don’t have to push yourself week in, week out, you can make it a time trial, or a recovery run, a chatty run with friends or pace them to a new PB. It can be whatever you want it to be.

Your weekend will never be the same again

After you’ve been a few times you realise your weekends have changed. You start with a fun activity, you hang out with friends and then you do your other things, such as gardening, groceries, etc.

Yes it’s an early start, but you will discover you earn extra energy for the rest of the day.

You start planning your holidays around parkrun locations

Your barcode is a ticket to parkruns all over the country where you live (and overseas). After a few parkruns you find your weekend routine has morphed, and when you head away for a weekend you wonder if there’s a parkrun nearby. Soon enough you’re looking up parkruns first before booking a trip.

Not only will you have several barcode printed out (plus a wristband, tag etc) but you also know your ID off by heart.

Yep, this is when you know parkrun has really taken over. Can you reel your number off by heart?

Where do you keep your barcodes?

Come and share over in the Runs With A Barcode Clubhouse. Already a member? Tell your parkrunning friends so they can join in.


park what? A guide for beginners

I live in two worlds.

One where parkrun is a weekly occurrence. Where people know their run total and what milestone they’re working towards.

Some in this world could also tell me how many courses they’ve run at, where their nearest event not done yet (NENDY) is and other stats relating to their unique barcode.

The other world is one where when I mention parkrun I’m met with a questioning look.

So if parkrun is new to you, this blog is for you.

If you have friends who are in the other world, this is for them so you may share it with them and hopefully encourage them along.

What is parkrun?

In brief, it’s a free, weekly, timed 5km run, held almost always on a Saturday morning at 8am. When it’s winter and you’re in Otago and Southland, then it’s 9am.

You register once, for free, and receive via email your barcode. Print this out and bring it with you to any parkrun event. It’s your ticket to a free 5km wherever there is a parkrun.

It was set up by a lonely, injured runner who missed his friends – because he couldn’t run with them.

So he (Paul Sinton-Hewitt) created a 5km time trial in his local park (Bushy Park, London, UK) one October Saturday morning in 2004.

There were just 13 runners but now there are around 7 million registered parkrunners around the world.

There are parkrun events in 22 countries, and your barcode can be used at any of these.

How does it work?

It’s run by volunteers, which is how it is free.

There’s no need to register, so no pressure to show up if you’re not feeling up to it.

There’s a run briefing before each run to give our any special announcements and then you all start together.

When you finish your time is recorded, you are handed a finish token, which you take, with your own barcode, to a volunteer to scan both. The parkrun event keeps the finish token to use next week, you keep your barcode.

Results are processed after the event has been packed up and you receive an email with your time.

Will I be last?

Not unless you choose to. Each event has a tail walker volunteer whose role it is to be the final finisher.

Do I have to run?

No. even though it’s called parkrun you can run, walk or a mix of both. So long as you are moving forwards under your own steam you are welcome.

If you use a wheelchair to move around then you are welcome to participate and receive a finish time. Some courses might not be suitable so please check ahead of arriving with the event team.

What makes it fun?

This is where it’s all down to you.

I love parkrun because it makes me feel good about myself. Even though I’m never going to finish first I know that I’m doing my best on that day just by showing up.

I love meeting up with friends old and new. I love seeing the smiles on other people’s face.

There’s the challenge of trying to not stop and walk even though I really want to (and I sometimes do, and that’s okay too).

It’s not a competition, but you can make it a competition by trying to do better than last time.

I also like the tourism it’s given me. I’m one of those parkrunners who likes to visit other events. It gives me a reason to go away and explore a new area – and to meet new parkrunners.

Signing up for parkrun has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. Even when I’ve not felt like running during the week, I’ve still gone to parkrun.

The link to register is: https://www.parkrun.co.nz/register/