In the recent news that Stoke Gifford Parish Council have decided to start charging parkrun for the use of it’s park, I wanted to recover this article on why I love parkrun.
This post was written to draw upon attention to the great work of parkrun. It makes me both sad and angry to hear that Stoke Gifford Parish Council have decided to start charging parkrun for the weekly 5k run which takes place in a park in Little Stoke every Saturday. Despite receiving over 16,000 signatures to stop the council from charging for the use of the park, a parish council meeting last night confirmed the decision to charge parkrun to cover the maintenance costs of the park. parkrun is a non-profit organisation, it is facilitated by the spare time which volunteers give to parkrun, it should be regarded as a charity not a money making establishment. Further to this, paying to run goes against one of parkrun’s founding principles: exercise should be accessible and free to all.
It goes without saying that charging runners to use a park is an absolutely absurd suggestion. We are living in a world where obesity, diabetes, heart disease and mental health issues are increasingly becoming a problem and for many, speed-walking, jogging or running at a parkrun within an accessible, open and warm community is one way of feeling good and motivated to exercise more. parkrun breaks down any barriers for people interested in joining a 5k run, so for Stoke Gifford Parish Council to ask for financial reimbursement for a group run is ridiculous. This ruling is an incredibly negative statement from a local council, a council should be encouraging and facilitating of health and exercise within it’s local community.
Park Run is a nationwide running initiative that takes place every weekend right under your nose! In a park near you there is a 5k run which kick starts at 9am, in some locations, welcoming hundred of runners of all abilities. It’s all in the name with parkrun, there are over 800 participating parks across the country so there’s a high chance that you’ll find a parkrun near you – and if you’re really lucky, you live near Ashton Court where there’s two steep hill inclines for 2.5k!
I’m always singing the praises of these organised runs so I wanted to put it down into words just why I think they’re so awesome. Here are six reasons why I love Park Run – if you can think of more, please comment at the bottom!
That smug feeling
Every Park Runner is more than familiar with that smug feeling of completing a 5k run all before 10am on a Saturday morning. Knowing that friends and family have merely managed to draw the curtains in the time that you have accomplished an organised run is tremendous. The sense of accomplishment of making it out of bed on a weekend is worth atleast 24 hours of bragging rights. It’s not just that, all good Park Runs must be rewarded with a hearty high-protein rich breakfast after – otherwise known as eggs benedict. Retreat to a nearby café to reflect on the new found level of breathlessness you encountered on the 4th kilometre.
2) It’s free
Park Run would not be Park Run without it’s amazing support base from volunteers, giving up their time every Saturday morning in aid of the cause. Just incase, we don’t applaud you enough when we run past – here’s a mahoosive THANK YOU for standing in the wind, marshalling the course and cheering us on. Let’s not forget the photographers, I still look up the pictures from the run in hope for a decent action photo, long may the search continue. Park Run is always on the look out for volunteers so if you’re nursing an injury or have a friend who is a keen runner then just come along and put your name down.
3) Your time is recorded
Remember the time at school when you did a mock exam to help you prepare for the real thing? Imagine training for a marathon, half marathon, 10k or 5k without doing something that vaguely mimicked the actual race situation – it just wouldn’t work! You bring along your barcode to Park Run (and if you’re a pro, you’ve got yours laminated) which you have to get scanned at the end of the race – once this is done, hold tight and your SMS text will come through, confirming your time. Then prepare for a delicious amount of statistics on your race performance… position overall, gender position, age grading!
4) ParkRun is nationwide
Whether it’s South Manchester, Bristol or Southend-on-Sea – if there’s a nearby Park Run, there’s nothing stopping you from going along. This means that there really is no excuses (unless the Friday feeling got it’s wicked way in the pub the night before) – remember all good Park Runs act as a valid pre-requisite for brunch. Just remember that.
5) Things like this happen..
6) Run for run’s sake
Never have I encountered anything quite as accessible for new runners as parkrun. It’s really hard to get into running if you’ve never done it before, but 5k is a really great distant to try and overcome. The vast array of people coming along to Park Run speaks volumes; people of all abilities are coming along every Saturday just hoping to complete the course or trying to run a little quicker than last time. It’s only as competitive as you make it. I love that about parkrun.