Parkrun is a collection of free weekly 5K timed running events that take place every Saturday in over 1400 location in over twenty different countries. This community event is a staple of many runner’s weekly running routines as it’s a great way to get some race condition practice in a relaxed atmosphere. In this article, I’ll explore Parkrun tourism covering what it is, how to do it and its benefits.
What is Parkrun?
As alluded to in the introductory paragraph, Parkrun is a free weekly timed 5K run taking place in many locations in numerous countries.
It’s praised in the running community for its simplicity, inclusivity and for the fun it provides thousands of runners with every Saturday morning.
How do you get involved with Parkrun?
You need to register yourself on the official Parkrun website to be given a unique athlete ID, a user profile and barcode. During registration, you’ll need to select one of the many parks as your ‘home’ Parkrun.
Once you’ve registered, you’ll be instructed to print your personal barcode. This bar code will be your bread and butter as you start getting involved in parkrun.
For data tracking purposes, you will need to provide your barcode to a volunteer scanner after each parkrun so your performance can be recorded and stored online.
Your performance data will be available on your local parkrun results page and it will be logged against your profile’s data set which can be useful for tracking your progress over time. Registering is simple and only takes a few moments.
To register, click here.
What is parkrun tourism?
Any time you visit another parkrun location and run that instead of your home parkrun, you are a parkrun tourist.
As long as you have your barcode you can show up to any parkrun in the world, run and have your results recorded.
Some people get nervous about being a Park run tourist because they’re in a new location and probably unfamiliar with the run route. If this sounds like you, please don’t worry.
The volunteer marshalls and race directors who organise and manage each park run are usually extremely helpful. They will usually always be on hand come race day to give a run briefing and answer any questions tourists may have.
What are the benefits of being a Parkrun tourist?
1. It’s a nice change from your usual route
If you run the same parkrun route every Saturday morning, things could soon become stale. You may become overly familiar with your hometown route and start to get bored. Not only is boredom linked to anxiety and depression, it can also lead to a loss of passion. Not good when you want to run to enjoy yourself.
Therefore, mixing up your parkroute by being a tourist every now and then is great for staying stimulated and avoiding boredom. Try being a Parkrun tourist once a month, if you can.
2. Get your Parkrun in whilst travelling
Whenever you’re away from home and on your travels, it’s a great idea to become a parkrun tourist and get a workout in. It’s a fun and unique way to get your run in whilst on the go.
Whilst the place you’re travelling to, or through, isn’t guaranteed to have a parkrun, it’s always good to check. Simply go on Google and type in ‘parkruns in’ followed by wherever you’re travelling. For instance, when I went on a UK tour with my band I knew I would be in Southampton on a Saturday morning. After a bit of research, I found a Southampton parkrun and became a parkrun tourist on my travels. If you’re going to be somewhere different from home on a Saturday morning, check online if there’s a parkrun nearby. It’s a great opportunity to be a parkrun tourist!
3. All parkruns follow the same process
Regardless if you’re at the Glasgow parkrun or the Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun, the process is always the same. Consistency in the parkrun process means it’s easy for runners to understand how the race works, whatever neck of the woods they happen to come from.
What is the parkrun process?
As a park-runner your experience might look something like this:
- Rock up to the briefing area to receive instructions from the race director approximately 10-15 minutes before the start.
- Line up to start and get your Garmin ready.
- Run the 5K as fast or as slow as you like.
- Finish, grab your placing number token and hand it to a scanner volunteer along with your personal barcode.
- Parkrun finished!
It really is that simple. Thanks to this straightforward, uncomplicated process, it’s easy to rock up to any park run as a tourist and get involved. No barriers or complicated procedures necessary.
4. Meet new people
If you’re a sociable person, being a parkrun tourist is a great opportunity to meet new people. you might learn something new, gain a different perspective and enhance your communication skills.
There are many opportunities for a chat with fellow runners. In the pre-run briefing area, during the run and afterwards when scanning your bar code.
Most of the parkruns tend to be near somewhere serving hot drinks so, if appropriate, you could have a drink with new running buddies. Become a parkrun tourist and meet new people.
5. Exploring new places
Seeing fresh locations is one of the best parts of being a parkrun tourist.
Not only do you get in a productive workout but you also get to see new parts of the world.
Whether it’s 20 minutes down the road in a neighbouring town or in another country, there’s always a new parkrun location to discover.
I live in Maidstone, Kent and my local parkrun is along the river Medway. Running along the river is scenic and calming but it’s lovely to explore different locations every now and then.
Recent examples of when I’ve seen new places as a parkrun tourist are when I took part in the Gravesend Shorne Wood parkrun (trail in woodland) and the Tonbridge and Malling parkrun (gravel path around a lake) at Leybourne Lakes.
Awaken your sense of adventure and see the world by becoming a regular parkrun tourist.