Have you heard of Parkrun?
Every week, come rain or shine, a group of volunteers make it possible for the runners of all over the country to get out and run a measured 5k course around for free.
Locally we have a number of Parkruns including Kings Lynn, Kettering, Corby, March, Peterborough, Huntingdon, Wimpole Estate & Cambridge.
The original director of Cambridge Parkrun, Heidi, told me more about Parkrun and why she got involved.
It all started when Heidi heard other runners raving about the Parkrun initiative and, how great the atmosphere was at the runs. She thought it was a great shame Cambridge didn’t have its own Parkrun given the large running community we boast here. But, rather than sit back and moan, Heidi was inspired to set up a Parkrun and with the co-operation of Milton Country Park that’s exactly what she did. Heidi recalled that on the first run back in January 2010 just 71 runners took part, now each Saturday brings an average of 300.
If you’ve never done a Parkrun here’s a quick outline of how it works. Register for free on the Parkrun website and print your personalised barcode. You can run at any of the country, even worldwide registered Parkrun venues listed not just Milton Park or locally.
On Saturday turn up at in time for race start, always at 9am, run 5km, get your barcode scanned and if you wish to, enjoy coffee, cake and chat in the park café – done! When you get home you will find an email or text waiting for you to tell you your placing and time. This serves as an excellent tool to measure your personal improvement and give a great focus for training.
Heidi explained that the technology used to record the runner’s times, scan barcodes and get the data emailed to participants is provided by sponsorship and from donations made by runners. However, the backbone of the whole operation is the teams of volunteers, who make the Parkrun possible by setting out the course and marshalling every week.
I’m a big fan of the Parkrun initiative, it is such a simple concept – turn up, run, get a time.
But it is much more than that it removes barriers and allows for runners of all ages, speeds, shapes and sizes to run together. There is no feeling of being amongst ‘elite’ runners and not being good enough to run, all that you get is support and encouragement from all involved.
If you want a great Saturday morning run, grab the family and head for a Parkrun this week!
(Advance Performance – Former Deputy Supervisor/Run Group Leader Cambridge Store)