parkrun to expand into Russia to mark 10th anniversary

Sunday, 05 January 2014
By Mike Rowbottom

parkrun has revealed that the event will become established this year in Russia ©parkrunJanuary 5 - Paul Sinton-Hewitt, founder of parkrun - the free five kilometre event which now has more than 760,000 registered runners across 10 countries - has revealed that the event will become established this year in Russia.

The latest expansion will mark the 10th anniversary of the park-based running scheme that started with a time trial in Bushy Park, near Hampton Court, in 2004, when there were just 13 starters.

Sinton-Hewitt is now celebrating the year that has just finished, which saw 332,000 people participate in their first parkruns.

"Just over 1.95 million runs were recorded last year, taking our total number of runs since we started in 2004 to 3.92 million runs," he said. 

"Making all this possible was the amazing 42,800 unique volunteers who volunteered in excess of 180,000 times across 362 events or locations...

"One hundred and fifty three new events were added in 2013...

"The United Kingdom added the most new events followed by Australia and South Africa.

"One of our newest countries, Ireland, has shown phenomenal adoption of parkrun and we look forward to this trend continuing.

"We are excited about the opportunities for growth and look forward to continuing our contribution to the fitness, health, fun and wellbeing of parkrunners across the nations.

"We are also excited to be welcoming Russia to our list of parkrun countries in 2014."

Andy Baddeley is the parkrun record holder - but the emphasis is on participation as much as competition ©Getty ImagesAndy Baddeley is the parkrun record holder - but the emphasis is on participation as much as competition ©Getty Images

The parkrun record is held by British Olympian Andy Baddeley, who recorded 13min 48sec, however the emphasis, emphatically, is not on elite performance.

The parkrun figures include more than 50,000 regular participants who take part in 350 events all around the world, including in the UK, Australia, South Africa, Poland, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, the United States, Singapore and, most recently, Russia.

There is even a regular parkrun for service personnel at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan.

On October 8 last year - parkrun's ninth birthday - Sinton-Hewitt reflected on his emotions before the first run in Bushy Park.

"I remember feeling nervous," he said.

"What if it didn't work?

"What if folks got lost?

"Then I remembered it's just a simple run around the park with your mates.

"This remains the principle of parkrun...

"Hugh Brasher, the London Marathon race director, once said to me that parkrun was the second most important thing to happen to running in the UK.

"The Marathon was a turning point that saw the average person take up distance running and he said that parkrun would have a similar effect.

"Looking back, the evidence is that he has been right so far.

"But let's not get complacent, because for every person doing parkrun there are thousands who are not.

"My goal is for there to be a parkrun in every town or village that wants one."

Read the full parkrun Big Read here.

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