Every Saturday, about 12,000 people take part in 5km timed runs all over the UK. These events are completely free and are organised by volunteers. Yes, completely organised by volunteers! The events are called parkrun, and are the brainchild of an inspiring philanthropist who believes that it is everyone’s right to get up on a Saturday and run in a 5km timed event without paying for the pleasure.
Paul Sinton-Hewitt founded the Bushy Park run, in Teddington, with just 13 runners in 2004. In 2009 he won a Runner’s World Heroes award. This week’s Bushy Park parkrun attracted a record 1000 runners and the organisation is within sprinting distance of their millionth run. On current turnout it’s predicted to happen next weekend.
Even if you don’t run and aren’t at all interested in sport, parkruns are a shining example of what can be achieved when a group of motivated people are facilitated to make something happen. There has always been a pool of potential volunteers -runners – who collectively stood to gain from free runs. But parkrun’s runaway (!) success shows what can be achieved when a leader brings together the vision, the volunteers and a practical system that enables it to all happen. And it all happens every Saturday when armies of unskilled volunteers organise parkrun events all over the world.
Have you run in a parkrun?