Every Saturday morning, thousands of runners worldwide will be running 5K as part of a parkrun. If you’re thinking of heading to your first parkrun to join in the fun, we’re sure you’ll have a friendly welcome.
Whether you’ve recently started running or have just never been along to a parkrun before, there are a few things you might want to know before your first time.
Not sure where to start? Try our training plan for beginner runners.
What is parkrun?
parkrun is a free, weekly, times 5K run in parks across the world. It first started in Bushy Park in 2004 but there are now more than 1,100 events across the UK and in more than 20 countries. So there’s a good chance there’s one not too far from you.
How do I sign up for my first parkrun?
While parkrun is free and anyone can take part, you should sign up first. You only need to register once and then you can turn up any week to any parkrun. You will be issues a parkrun barcode that will have your name on it. Print this out and keep it somewhere safe – you will need it at the finish.
What happens at parkrun?
at the start
Before every parkrun there will be a ‘First-Timers Briefing’. One of the volunteers will talk anyone new to the event through the course and what to expect. It’s a good time to ask any questions you have. Importantly, it will also show you that you’re not the only first-timer and you might find yourself a run buddy.
You’ll see people start to make their way towards the start line shortly before 9am. You can line-up wherever you like, though if it’s your first time and you’re feeling nervous you might be more comfortable towards the back. There will be a few announcements and then a brief countdown before you’re on your way and running your parkrun.
As parkrun isn’t chip timed, your official time starts when the horn sounds, not when you cross the start line. But you can start your own watch when you cross the start line if you like.
during your run
Each parkrun course is different, so have a look at the course description of your local event in advance. Some are one lap, others are multiple laps. Some are on path while others are on trail. The first-timers briefing will also give you an idea of where the route will take you.
There will be plenty of other runners to follow and friendly marshals along the way to point out any corners and cheer you on. And there’s always a volunteer who walks the route as the tail walker so you don’t need to worry about getting left behind.
finishing your run
As you approach the finish line, you’ll get some friendly cheers of encouragement. Look for the ‘finishing funnel’ – this will be marked out with ribbon. The finish line is the start of this funnel – you can stop running once you enter it but do keep moving as people will be finishing behind you.
It’s important that you stay in the correct order in the funnel and don’t duck out of it.
At the other end of the funnel, you will be given a token with a barcode on it and your position. You need to take this and the barcode that you printed off when you registered to one of the volunteers. They will scan both which will match your position and time up to your name so you’ll know how long it took you.
Looking to run quicker? find out how to run a faster parkrun.
Do I have to run the whole parkrun?
Absolutely not. You can run or walk parkrun or if you’re a fan of Jeffing you can do that too.
Do you have to be fast to do parkrun?
At the. You can walk the 5K if you prefer and there will be a volunteer who is the designated tail walker, meaning the participant will ever come ‘last’.
I’ve forgotten my parkrun barcode. Can I still run?
Yes, you’re still allowed to run without a barcode but you might not get an official time. You should still finish as usual and take a finish token then return this to one of the volunteers.