Paul Sinton-Hewitt, CBE, founder of the phenomenon that is parkrun, was justifiably upbeat in his review of 2016. During the past 12 months Sweden and Canada have joined the parkrun family; the three millionth individual runner was registered and more than a million different people ran in the free, weekly 5k events.
The stunning stats continued with the revelation that more than 1,000 parkruns are now being held in 14 countries and most impressive of all was the tribute paid to the 142,000 volunteers who made it all happen.
The UK currently boasts around 550 venues and welcomed 8,000 new runners in 2016. Not surprisingly, parkrun was judged Participation Event of the Year at the country’s prestigious Sport Industry Awards. It is incredible to reflect how far parkrun has come since 13 pioneers went for their first timed 5k run in Bushy Park in 2004.
Local parkruns added to the figures and kicked off 2017 in fine style by taking advantage of the calendar at Christmas and New Year. Saturday is parkrun day worldwide but extra runs are allowed on Christmas Day and New Year's Day, which facilitated many weekend double runs.
Sinton-Hewitt is determined that parkrun will continue to evolve and expand and had these words regarding future aspirations: “Our vision is to create a healthier and happier planet by continually breaking down barriers to participation and bringing people together from all walks of life, whenever they want to come along. We believe that by 2023 we will see one million people taking part at parkrun every single weekend across 12,000 global events.
“This goal presents us with significant challenges but I am pleased to say that we are in a wonderful position to ensure that no matter how many communities embrace parkrun in the future it will always be the same - a walk, jog or run in the park with our mates. Thank you to all of you for your support of parkrun, and I wish you a happy and prosperous 2017.”
To find your nearest parkrun visit the parkrun website.