Parkrun returns in England on Saturday 24 July. It’s already up and running in Northern Ireland, should return in Scotland on 14 August, and is still ‘TBC’ for Wales. Junior parkrun returned a few weeks ago. If you’re new to parkrun and wondering what all the fuss is about, here’s the Lonely Goat guide to the re-start of the free, weekly, timed 5Ks.
In the almost-seventeen years since parkrun started it has grown into a global phenomenom – with millions of parkrunners and hundreds of locations in more than 20 countries. It’s become a natural end goal for people completing Couch to 5K, and is popular with more experienced runners who appreciate the challenge of a regular 5K. There are even ‘parkrun tourists’ who try to visit as many parkrun locations as possible.
We’re big fans of parkrun at Lonely Goat as it has undoubtedly helped countless people start and maintain a regular running habit.
A world without parkrun
It’s become such an ingrained part of the running psyche that it’s hard to think of the world of recreational running without parkruns. Yet, that’s what happened when parkrun, along with other events, was put on hold while the world struggled to get the Covid-19 pandemic under control.
Of course, other leisure facilities and events had to close too, including gyms. That lack of fitness options, coupled with the early lockdown restrictions in the UK that meant exercise was one of our few permitted reasons to be outside, encouraged a million people to download the NHS’ Couch to 5K app.
Assuming that even a fraction of those new runners have stuck with it, that means there are potentially tens or hundreds of thousands of new runners, who’ve started since the first Covid-19 lockdowns, who might not know what all the parkrun fuss is about.
For those potential new parkrunners, or anyone who might want a refresher, here’s a quick overview of what you need to know about the return of parkrun.
What is parkrun?
To start, here are the fundamentals about parkrun.
- It’s free! You need to register on the parkrun website beforehand, and print off a personal barcode that’s scanned at the finish, but there’s no entry fee to pay.
- All parkruns are 5K in length. Long enough to be a challenge, but short enough to be achievable.
- They’re for everyone, from Olympians through to people taking an hour or more. The atmosphere is fun and friendly and a perfect introduction to organised running events. Some events are wheelchair, buggy, or dog-friendly too.
- Taking place in hundreds of locations, the chances are there’s one near you. Some are small events with a few dozen runners, but others attract 1,000 people every week.
Represent the Herd
Parkruns are a great place to spot Lonely Goats out in the wild!
It’s easy to make yourself known to fellow members of the Herd:
- Wear club kit! Vests, tee shirts, leggings, buffs, caps – whatever you fancy.
- Set Lonely Goat RC as your club in your parkrun profile. Login to your account on the parkrun website, head to My Links, then Groups, and search for us. Once you’ve done this, other members will be able to spot you in the results.
We’re one of the biggest running clubs in the UK, so there’s a good chance you won’t be the only Goat at your local parkrun. And while there’s never any pressure to chat if you don’t fancy it (after all, most of us prefer to run solo), a quick goat salute, or a cheery “Go, Goat!” can give a fellow member a boost when they’re struggling.
Though parkrun is free, fairly informal, and fun, there are a few pointers worth remembering to ensure a successful Saturday morning.
- The run will start at 9am (if you’re in England. The time can vary in other countries), so get there early to catch the first-timers briefing.
- Don’t forget your barcode. You won’t get an official result without one. If you don’t have a barcode, make sure you register on the parkrun website now!
- Unless you’re confident of being one of the first over the finish line, consider lining up towards the back at the start. It’s always more fun to be overtaking than overtaken!
- Enjoy yourself! This is the most important tip. You’re joining in a global movement of millions of parkrunners, all sharing a love of running. That’s a remarkable, wonderful thing.
The continued persistence of the Covid-19 pandemic means runners do need to exercise a degree of caution.
- Obviously, don’t do parkrun if you are ill or have tested positive!
- If you are symptomatic, or have come into contact with someone who is symptomatic or has tested positive, then don’t attend.
- Make use of the free tests now available, to be on the safe side.
- If you do attend, observe social distancing guidelines: Try not to spend too long, too close to other people; and keep your hands, snot, sweat or anything else to yourself!
One of the great things about parkrun is that each event is run by volunteers. This really boosts the community spirit. If you fancy supporting your local parkrun in a practical way, check out their website or speak to one of the volunteer marshalls to find out how you can get involved.
If you’re planning on parkrunning for the first time on Saturday 24 July, and still have a few questions on your mind, remember there is a whole community of Lonely Goats who can help. Head over to the Facebook Chat Group, our Strava Club Page, or Instagram to connect with the Herd. We’ve also previously published a more in-depth guide to parkrun right here on this website.
Of course, the parkrun website has a wealth of information and is the place to go to sign up and find out specific information on your local parkrun. It’s also where you can volunteer to help out at your local event.
Get out there, have fun, and let us know how you get on!
Please note, the information in this article was correct when it was published, but please double check the parkrun website, and look for news about your local parkrun – just in case things change at the last minute.
This article was updated on 19 July 2021 to include new information from parkrun.