The parkrun phenomenon has grown from a loose organisation
of a group of 13 runners at Bushy Park in October 2004 to a national, indeed
international, federation of weekly 5km time-trials all based on a common
timing system and certainly for the UK a central database which is open to
interrogation by all registered runners. parkrun is a not-for-profit limited
company based in Twickenham. It may have taken until 2007 before the second
weekly parkrun got started at Wimbledon Common but several other events
started soon after that and nowadays there is an inaugural run somewhere
almost every week. While some events struggle to attract more than a few
dozen runners, others attract hundreds and Bushy Park itself has
occasionally achieved 1000 finishers.
Almost without exception parkruns are held on Saturday mornings at 9 a.m.
Occasionally there are additional runs organised on bank holidays. There is
no entry fee for any of the runs thanks to generous sponsorship by the
Sweatshop, who have been involved since the very early days, Adidas and
Lucozade with support also coming from the London Marathon, “3”, aql, Lloyds
Pharmacy and the Mayor of London’s office. Locally the events are all
arranged by a group of unpaid volunteered headed by a race director. Once
you have adopted a particular venue as your home run there is a plea that
you will volunteer three times a year to help with race organisation, e.g.
calling out split times at the half way point, handing out position tokens
at the finish, trail bike, etc.
The events are all held in traffic free areas such as urban parks,
country parks and seaside promenades and always with the blessing of the
appropriate local authority. Always bear in mind that runners do not have
priority over other park users. Most of the courses have been measured very
carefully, some with 5000m certificates. Courses vary from a single loop to
two, three or even more laps. Surfaces vary from all grass, through rough tracks to
paved or tarmac paths. On the whole the courses are neither dead flat nor
extremely hilly but some are undoubtedly more challenging than others. Most
parkruns have identified a café to which some runners will migrate after the
run for a cup of tea and a chance to socialise. The availability of toilets,
showers or changing rooms should never be assumed. Remember these events are
free! The parkrun website has a full list of all the events, course maps,
To be involved with parkrun it is essential to have access to the
internet and to register with parkrun by 6 p.m. on the Friday prior to
entering your first run. You will need to register an email address to which
your personal barcode is sent and you may also benefit from supplying a
mobile phone number. You will need to print your barcode and it is best then
to enclose it in a plastic folder or laminate it. There is no minimum standard,
but if you are likely to take more than 50 minutes, you should, as a
courtesy, warn the volunteers before you start. You may run with a dog
and/or a baby in a buggy as long as you don’t impede other runners. Children
under 11 should always be accompanied by an adult and should never
be pressurised to run faster or even all the way round.
Armed with your barcode you can join in any parkrun anywhere in the world
and be recognized when you reach the finish line. A position token,
associated with a finishing time, will be scanned (and surrendered for
re-use the following week) along with your personal barcode which you retain
to present the next time you complete a 5km parkrun. Usually by lunchtime
the same day you will receive a text message giving your time and position
and an email providing the same plus some further statistical information. A
complete set of results appears on the parkrun website at about the same
time. Leaving you barcode at home is the equivalent of arriving at Heathrow
without a passport or an employee’s ID card.
The website is a wonderful treasure trove of information and every
runner’s completed parkrun performances are retained for ever and available
for all to analyse. There is nowhere to hide. A feature of every result is
the WAVA %. This scores your time against the world record holder of your
age group (year by year) and gender.
The sponsors, Adidas, present commemorative T-shirts for those completing
50 runs (red), 100 runs (black) and 250 runs (gold), children also receive a
whole T-shirt after 10 runs. A jacket is also presented to those reaching
their century of runs.
The Sweatshop generously presents a pair of running shoes to individuals
selected by the event directors of each parkrun each month. These generally
recognise outstanding volunteering efforts or progressive meritorious
performances over a sustained period.
British Airways Athletics and parkrun
Over fifty club members have run at least one parkrun. Club Parkrun
statistics are updated by Steve Newell on a weekly basis =>
Excel spreadsheet download.
parkrun results for individuals members can be accessed from =>
Every couple of months one of the parkruns in the London or South
East is selected as the club run for a specific Saturday. In the past we
have visited Bedfont Lakes, Bushy
Park (Teddington), Black Park (Slough), Gunnersbury Park (Ealing) and Old
Deer Park (Richmond) and others.
As of early December 2013 the most prolific club parkrunner and the only
member to have completed more than 250 is Alan Anderson whose current tally
is 289. Alan also gets volunteer awards since he often helps with the set-up
of the parkrun prior to his run.
The following have completed more than 100 runs:
- John Coffey,
- Ian Cunningham
- Alan Friar
- Chris Kelly,
- Steve Newell,
The following have completed 50 runs or more:
- Scott Davison
- Neil Frediani
- Roderick Hoffman
- Piers Keenleyside
- Kerstin Luksch
Scott Davison has run faithfully at Bedfont Lakes 76 times in a row while Roderick Hoffman has run at
different parkruns (mostly just once at each) including two in each of Cape
Town, South Africa and Melbourne, Australia.
The fastest club members to date have been:
- Paul Knechtl 17:28 at Bushy
- Katherine Stather 18:52 (26/08/2008) also at Bushy Park (78.53%)
Next fastest: Robert Brown ran 18:01 at Bushy Park on 04/11/2006
WAVA scores in excess of 80% are rarely achieved.
- Barry Walters scored
81.81% for his 18:47 at Bedfont Lakes on 25/06/2011.
- John Coffey’s scored 81.18% for 20:17 at Bushy Park on 21/01/2006.
- Alan Anderson scored 80.42% for 22:49 at Bushy Park 27/09/2008
Brian Bennett has scored over 80% at four different parkruns (Kingston,
Gunnersbury Park, Black Park and Bushy Park) but his first claim club is
Runnymede Runners and dual club membership cannot be registered at parkrun.
Those registering for the first time should be sure to enter “British
British Airways runners at Gunnersbury Park parkrun December 2011
Steve Newell 13th May 2012
updated 7th December 2013