Parkrun Aims to Welcome New Runners, Losing Speed Records

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By Stuart
Goulden

Avid runner. 10x marathons. Daily 10kms. Award-winning journalist when not moving (about me)

I’ve started a new chapter to my love letter to parkrun, following this week’s news that speed records are to be removed from its website in order to be less “offputting” to new participants.

In short, parkrun wishes to distance itself from being regarded as a “race” and “remove barriers to registration and participation.”

The website will also no longer publish records of men who finish in under 17 minutes or women who finish in less than 20, in addition to age grade or category records.

Given Parkrunners only compete with themselves and can take part however they please – walk, jog, run, volunteer, or support from the sidelines – this makes a lot of sense.

Runners will continue to receive personalised results via email an hour or so after each event and have their times saved to their profile pages.

Why parkrun decided to remove event records

Parkrun said in a statement on its website: “As parkrun has grown over the years we have made many changes to our digital communication including things such as layout, design, imagery and the language we use – and will continue to do so as we evolve.

“We try hard to make sure the information we share is consistent with our values, and that, in all that we do, we continue to find ways to remove barriers to registration and participation.

“We know that our websites are an important source of information for all parkrunners, especially those who are new and yet to take part, and we therefore established a global working group to consider how we can present data in a way that is not offputting and doesn’t imply that parkrun is a race.

“This project group has spent many months now making detailed investigations and recommendations.

“What was clear is that there was a disconnect between the performance data displayed so prominently on the site, and our mission to create opportunities for as many people as possible to take part in parkrun events – especially those who are anxious about activities such as parkrun, but who potentially have an enormous amount to gain.”

Why join a local parkrun event?

Parkrun UK - runners get ready to start in York - rundure.com
Parkrun UK – runners get ready to start in York

The parkrun concept is simple: meet at one of 2,000 parkrun events in 22 countries across 6 continents, at 9am on Saturday, and walk, jog or run your way to 5km with like-minded souls.

As a running charity, parkrun relies on volunteers and donations. A weekly show of enormous public altruism the UK over, everyone is welcome and clapped their way round. All ages. All abilities.

For me, it’s the best way to start the weekend and doubles-up as a unique opportunity to soak up some of the most picturesque spots in the UK.

UK parkruns are on every conceivable terrain and backdrop – racecourses, historical sites, nature reserves, woodlands, parks… even beaches!

My search for the most beautiful parkrun ended the day I did the Fountains Abbey parkrun in North Yorkshire. Although the Christmas Day parkrun experience takes some beating too.

York parkrun on Christmas Day with runners in Santa fancy dress
York parkrun on Christmas Day with runners in Santa fancy dress

What do you think?

Will parkrun’s move encourage new runners?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below…

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