The global running phenomenon that is parkrun celebrated its twelfth birthday in 2016 and as it enters its teenage years has produced, perhaps belatedly, its first ever Annual Report. The 58-page report contains a wealth of amazing stories, facts and stats but was published just before the remarkable statistic emerged that over one million parkruns were completed during last month (April) – for the record it took seven years for the first million to be racked up!
More Than Just A Run In The Park
One constant in the continually evolving parkrun story is the founder, Paul Sinton-Hewitt, CBE, who paid tribute to the 91,000 heroes who donned the hi-viz as volunteers in 2016 to ensure that all the parkruns and junior parkruns could proceed safely.
Nick Pearson, parkrun CEO, explains the reasoning behind changing the mission statement from: "A parkrun in every community that wants one," to the intentionally ambitious: "We now dedicate every day to a healthier and happier planet."
And Tom Williams, chief operating officer focused on parkrun's global reach with Sweden and Canada, joining in 2016; USA was relaunched and South Africa achieved their 500,000th registration, including opening in several townships.
The review shows how parkrun's ethos of removing barriers to engagement and promoting participation by all was reflected in nearly 180,000 females becoming first-time parkrunners and more than 38,000 previously inactive people who are now running and excercising.
Volunteers are justifiably at the core of the parkrun success story and there is now a network of ambassadors, adjudicators, event directors and others who contributed an estimated £5m worth of their time during 2016. Many of these are involved in 2k junior parkrun, which was launched in 2010 and now takes place on Sunday mornings at 140 venues.
Whether you are a parkrunner or not (and if not, why not?) the 2016 Annual Report is well worth a read as it also contains many truly inspirational stories of human endeavour that embody parkrun's ambition for a healthier and happier planet.