If you've ever met me, spent more than a minute walking near me when I'm tailwalking at a Parkrun event or you are within my voice range it's highly possible I have told you about Parkrun. I really, really REALLY can't sing this wonderful organisations praises more highly * or could I by writing a blog? *
So, if you are familiar with Parkrun I'll just do a subtle self promo to check that you know we offer self application numbers to add to your Parkrun shirts... so, if you are between shirts for big milestones be sure to order early so you can wear your milestone number with pride to the appropriate event.
Now, if you are not familiar with Parkrun.. pull up a chair as you are in for a life changing bit of information. First bit of Parkrun info - it's 100% free! You know when people say 'nothing of value is free in this world?' well be sure to stand away from them as their pants may just catch on fire one day. To keep Parkrun free across the world there are a couple of incredibly generous sponsors Medibank Private, The Athletes Foot, and Contra plus, it relies on my favourite part... the kindness of strangers. Yes indeed Parkrun is run by volunteers that give up their time to organise, co-ordinate and run (excuse the pun) each weekly event. Basics are that Parkruns are free, weekly community events which are held all around the world on Saturday mornings. They each have a 5km route which can be through parks, pavements or even beaches! They are safe with no road crossings allowed. They are a positive, welcoming and inclusive experience with absolutely no time limit and no expectations.
The number one incorrect statement (those pants will catch on fire one day) is that you have to run. Nope, you can walk at your comfortable pace and even sit for a breather along the way if that is what you enjoy the most.
First thing is to go onto the parkrun website and register. You'll need to print out your free barcode and I suggest you put one in the glovebox of your car, one in your run belt, one in your sun visor of the car, one in your wallet and one on the fridge. Nothing worse than arriving at Parkrun to realise you don't have your barcode.
To ensure a safe experience for all there are a few standard tips - if you haven't done a parkrun before... turn up around 20 minutes early so you can listen to the run briefing, this is basic housekeeping of any areas which may need caution i.e. slippery from rain, sand over path etc, basic route information (there are usually volunteer marshalls at any turn around points to direct you) where the ever important loos are, water bubblers and, most importantly, best cafes for after Parkrun breakfast.
Most Parkruns will have a photographer on course. If you don't want to be photographed (witness protection program etc - no judgement) simply cross your arms in the NO DEAL fashion as you pass them. If you are happy to be photographed be sure to stop any possible grimacing if you are running and smile delightedly into the camera - parkrun photos are usually posted onto facebook and are F-O-R-E-V-E-R !
When you pass through the final Parkrun flags you'll be given a small plastic barcode. You'll need to take that over to the wonderful scanner on duty and this will then be scanned along with your barcode (the one in your glovebox, run belt, sun visor, wallet or fridge) to record your time. Now do a bit whooop whoooo ! welcome to the Parkrun Family.
The benefits of exercise are well documented as are the benefits of smiles and laughter - parkrun combines all of these things and you don't even need to know anyone or be familiar with the area. So, sign up today - register with a friend or go solo - the Parkrun page has details of all the events within your area. I guarantee you'll be welcomed and if you aren't simply trot off to another one next weekend and try again !