Parkrun for me means an opportunity to run a timed 5k with other people at 9am every Saturday morning.

My nearest parkrun is at Weymouth and an average of 110 runners turn up every Saturday at Lodmoor Country Park to run 5km against the clock.

parkrun Weymouth

Parkrun Weymouth

Parkrun Weymouth has happened 71 times and it is a free event.

Parkrun began in 2004 at Bushy Park in London and for 3 years that was it. A second event started at Wimbledon in 2007. Parkrun has grown since then. In 2012 there were 158 UK parkruns. Now there are 303 5km events and a further 36 junior 2km events. By November 2014 55,849 runners were taking part in a UK parkrun event every Saturday. Parkrun organise free, weekly, 5km timed runs around the world. They are open to everyone, free, and are safe and easy to take part in.

These events take place in pleasant parkland surroundings and parkrun encourage people of all abilities to take part; from those taking their first steps in running to Olympians; from juniors to those with more experience; everyone is welcome.

A massive 597,000 people in UK have done at least 1 parkrun.

Nationally the event has some big sponsors, but the local events also attract their own, local sponsorship. However, every parkrun has been set up by a local volunteer who has built up a team of volunteers to set up the event, with the support of parkrun UK. Each week a team of volunteers organises and runs each parkrun event. Parkrun Weymouth needs about 20 volunteers to take place.

Parkrun Weymouth always has a really relaxed friendly atmosphere and all the runners are well supported. There is an inclusive warm up before each run.

Everyone joins in the warmup.

Everyone joins in the warmup.

For me it is a great way of making myself run as hard as I can with that virtual number on my back. My strength is endurance rather than speed so 5km is not a comfortable distance for me.

Before my first parkrun – looking apprehensive (wearing a cycling top – in denial about being a runner)

Before my first parkrun – looking apprehensive (wearing a cycling top – in denial about being a runner)

Parkrun Weymouth is very inclusive.  People of all ages shapes and sizes and dogs too take part.

Parkrun Weymouth is very inclusive. People of all ages shapes and sizes and dogs too take part.

Chrissie Wellington – four time ironman world champion, reckons…

“If you run 5k very fast it hurts a lot more than doing an ironman, but you get less blisters and chaffing.”

I will try to remember that when I inevitably suffer on September 13th.

I have taken part in the Weymouth parkrun 6 times and last Saturday I ran the Ashton Court parkrun as I was in Bristol. I plan to run parkrun every Saturday that I am not involved in another event as part of my ironman training. I am also planning to do my share of volunteering to enable this wonderful free event to prosper.

Every runner and volunteer has a barcode which identifies them at the event and the barcode is valid wherever you participate. Registration is online and a part of the registration is creating your own unique bar code.

Remembering your bar code is imperative – no bar code – no time – no points.

The results are posted on the Parkrun website within a couple of hours of each event. It was very exciting to receive my first Parkrun result as a text message. I now eagerly wait for that text – and I know I am not alone! The results for each runner are very comprehensive. For those of us at the extremes of the age range the % age grading score is quite an important part of the results table. All parkrun events use age grading to allow athletes to compare results. For male and female in 5 year age bands from age 10 to 85. This score allows you to compare your personal performance against other people’s performances even though they might be a different age and a different sex to you – the higher the score the better the performance. The tables work by recording the world record performance for each age at each distance for men and women.

More information about age grading can be found here.

Parkrun is just one motivating tool that I am using to try to fulfill my potential as a 59 year old. I have to put the achievements from my younger days firmly in the past and have set out new goals suitable for a woman in her 60th year. I have to admit to being a competitive, driven person. This is what motivates me to test myself and to continue to improve to be the best I can be.

At Parkrun I run as fast as I can. This is not as fast as I would like to run – but I have to be realistic. I wear a heart rate monitor and IF this shows that I am averaging over 90% of my maximum heart rate I am content. But I will still try to go faster next time. – and maybe get 2 feet off the ground like my friend Debbie!

Debbie flying on her sprint finish at Weymouth parkrun

Debbie flying on her sprint finish at Weymouth parkrun


4 thoughts on “Parkrun

  1. Tim T aka 'Doo'

    I am yet to enter a park run but may well do as there is one very close by. When you run your park run event – do you kinda go ‘full speed’ for the duration of the whole event? Do you worry about injury. I am just asking because (following your advice) have started short runs. Am concentrating mostly on PBP this year, but dream of ironman the next…. If I were to run 1-2 times a week, would a speedy 5k be a good plan?

    1. Barbara

      I constantly worry about injury and do most of my running off road and rarely run on consecutive days. The beauty of ironman training is that there are so many different elements – cycling swimming strength and conditioning, yoga, as well as running. So if I need to take a break from running because of a ‘niggle’ then I do and just for example do more swimming.

      As we age we lose speed. So to try to limit this it makes sense to do more intensive training, Running – with some intensity (hill reps, fartleg, interval, tempo runs, sprints) – helps with the loss of speed and to helps to get maximum gains from the time available. I try to make every session count. Even on the long slow distance running (and cycling) I will hit the hills hard and maybe do some fartleg.

      The Parkrun is the perfect tempo run. I go as fast as I can.

      I do less long slow distance cycling now and do 2 intensive workouts on a bike every week. At present one is a pyramid on a stationary bike and the other is a tempo 20k. -flat out.

      1. Tim T aka 'Doo'

        Thanks for your reply. I guess I’ll run my first 5k park run like the wind and see how I go?! Am worried I put a lot of effort in and crash after the first few mins. I’ll test it…

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