A Beginner’s Guide to Parkrun!

Follow me

Rob Murray

Rob is a self confessed running geek, obsessed with all things related to the sport. Men’s Captain of Purbeck Runners road running club, always looking for the next personal best whether 200 metres or half marathon!
Follow me

Latest posts by Rob Murray (see all)

What is this parkrun thing?

I discovered parkrun in January 2012 and have loved every single run since then – this is a (unofficial) guide to what it is and why so many people love it!

If you run already then you’ve more than likely heard of parkrun. If you haven’t and are just starting out as a runner (and this post is for you), it’s a weekly, free and timed run in many different locations across nine different countries. It was started by Paul Sinton-Hewitt, with the very first event happening in Bushy Park, London in 2004 and the most recent at Kolomenskoe and Severnoe Tushino in Russia. Most important to parkrun are the hundreds of volunteers who each week give up their time to help make it happen at the 572 weekly events .

You turn up on a Saturday morning, just before 9am (9:30 in some Scottish runs) and run, walk or jog your way around a 5k course. THIS IS NOT A RACE! Some people do go to the front and race against themselves for a PB (personal best) but the majority of parkrunners run, jog, walk and talk their way around the course at whatever speed they choose, with everybody achieving the same level of satisfaction at the end. Even if you walk the whole thing with an ice-cream in your hand, you’re still doing better than the guy sitting on the sofa at home : )

Step by Step Guide To parkrun

1. Make up your mind

Resolve to try parkrun at least once. You’ve read this far so something has obviously sparked your interest. I guarantee that once you’ve done one, you’ll want to return! It takes a lot of will power to turn up to this thing with lots of people that you don’t know (but who are all very friendly), but just try it. Comment below after if you didn’t enjoy it (oh look, no comments!)

2. Find a friend

Like many things in life, friends can make things easier for you. Find someone you know and invite them along (send them a link to this post so they know what you’re on about). Then both go down together and take on the world.

Full of resolve and raring to go? Ok next…

3. Find your nearest parkrun

It’s all on the parkrun website, so find your nearest parkrun here.

parkrun countries

parkrun countries

Ok, done that? Know where your nearest run is? Great, make a note of it.

4. Register

In order to receive a time from parkrun, which will be emailed and texted to you the same day, you first need to register.

So go here and register for parkrun http://www.parkrun.org.uk/register/form/ or the relevant page in your country

5. Print off your bar-code

Your bar code is how your attendance and time will be logged on the parkrun system. You need to print this off, cut it out, place one in your running shorts/tights and one in your car. I forget my card at least every other week so it’s always good to have the back-up in the car! Some parkruns run a ‘lamination station’ at regular intervals (I know Poole does). This allows you to just turn up and get your flimsy paper bar code covered in a protective plastic covering. Or you can order a more durable barcode here

Parkrun bar code

Parkrun bar code

6. Set your alarm!

Whether you intend to run or walk your way round your first parkrun, you need to get there at least 10 minutes before hand. This is where you’ll receive a short briefing on the route and any obstacles/dangers such as ice along the way. It’s also the fun bit where new runners are welcomed with applause and birthdays and landmark runs (50 & 100) are celebrated with a cheer.

Happy Birthday Bournemouth parkrun!

Happy Birthday Bournemouth parkrun!

7. Run (or walk)!

Well done! You’ve got your bar code and turned up to the start line, very courageously overcoming your nerves (we ALL get nervous before parkrun and I’ve done 50 of them!) Now you just need to follow everyone else and hey presto – you’ve just done your first parkrun!

Must be Bushy parkrun!

Must be Bushy parkrun!

Pictured: Cardiff parkrun

Pictured: Cardiff parkrun


8. Finishing

As you finish your run, you’ll be guided through a funnel of tape and handed a token with a position number and bar code on it. Stay in your place in the queue as this determines your position and time. You’ll then walk round to some volunteers who will scan your position bar code and your personal code, entering you officially in to the parkrun history books. Don’t forget to return your position code to the pots/hooks as these will be needed next week! If you’re not planning on having your time recorded, don’t go into the finishing funnel as this will put everyone else’s positions/times out of sync.

Barcode scanning at Maidstone parkrun

Barcode scanning at Maidstone parkrun

9. Come back next week

See, you loved it and are already addicted. See you next week!

Next, read this post showing 10 Ways to Run a Faster Parkrun


Author: Rob Murray

Similar posts

Enjoying Training a Runner? Please spread the word :)