Stay active at your local parkrun | Free 5k events for runners and walkers

If you're a runner in the UK, chances are you’ve heard of parkrun. The free event takes place at 9am every Saturday and sees thousands of people descend on locations around the country to walk or run 5km on a closed road course.

Parkrun is an inclusive and safe environment where you will get more active, meet new people and improve your 5k time. For most people, the distance is the perfect entry point into running or walking for fitness, being both accessible and offering a challenge for more seasoned runners.

What is parkrun?

The first parkrun took place in London’s Bushy Park in 2004 with just 13 runners and 3 volunteers. Since then, the event has grown to almost 800 locations in the UK, as well as an increasing number of new events in countries around the world.

To date, almost 3 million people have taken part in a parkrun, and many locations see hundreds of walkers and runners turn up every Saturday to be part of the community. This inclusive environment makes running fun, no matter your experience or ability.

What’s so special about parkrun?

Every event is free to enter and volunteer led, making it the perfect place to start your running journey. Inclusive and welcoming, parkrun is a great place for runners, joggers and walkers of all abilities to meet likeminded individuals looking for a fun way to stay healthy.

Parkrun is as much about the social side of exercise as it is the running. Built on the community of runners who make it possible, parkrun encourages you to cross the finish line and share the joy of running with friends and family.

How does parkrun work?

Each parkrun takes place on a closed road course, normally in a park or green area. Runners and walkers start the route at 9am and complete it in their own time. After crossing the finish line participants can scan their barcode and their online account will be updated with their time, meaning you can easily measure your progress week by week.

How can I get involved in parkrun?

To join the community, find your closest parkrun (you can search the handy map tool on the event website and enter your details to sign up.

The Parkrun website allows you to see how difficult each course is, how many people take part and the finishing times of other participants.

There is also a junior parkrun that takes place at select sites up and down the country. This event is 2k in length, giving 4- to 14-year-olds a more accessible distance to run, jog or walk. You can find out more about junior parkrun on the junior parkrun event finder page.

Parkrun is organised by volunteers around the country and offers plenty of opportunities to get involved and support your local community, from scanning people’s barcodes at the finish line to pacing runners and walkers around the course. To find out about volunteering at your local parkrun you can find more information on the website.

What can parkrun help with?

Parkrun is a great way to get into running and has helped thousands of people improve their health and wellbeing since 2004. See below to find out how running and parkrun can help you:

  • Weight loss
  • Improve circulation
  • Flexibility
  • Improve confidence in an inclusive and friendly environment
  • Mental health
  • Stress relief

Where does parkrun take place?

There are 780 parkrun locations across the UK taking place in cities, towns, and villages.

Although many are held in parks, the terrain can cover trails, coastal paths, athletics tracks, and even a bridge connecting England and Wales.

What happens on the day?

It's normal to feel a little nervous when you take part in your first event. The number one thing to remember is that parkrun is meant to be fun. Whether you run or walk it, the friendly atmosphere and supportive volunteers will help to make sure it's an experience you enjoy and want to come back to. Each parkrun also has a tail walker volunteer who will always be at the back of the group, so nobody ever finishes last.

If you're a runner and you've used a plan to guide your training up to this point, you should feel ready to tackle the 5k distance. If not, take it nice and slow and find a comfortable pace. Remember that sticking to a consistent pace is better than setting off quickly at a speed you can't maintain.

Last updated Thursday 6 July 2023

First published on Thursday 6 July 2023