Parkrun not accessible to all socioeconomic ... - Bridge to 10K

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Parkrun not accessible to all socioeconomic groups?

Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
108 Replies

I've just heard a GP on the PM programme mention in passing that parkrun is not accessible to all socioeconomic groups. He was discussing the opioid crisis and how the means of getting fit, such as parkrun, are not available to everyone.

I know this is not a parkrun forum, but I was shocked, and I wondered what others feel? Obviously parkrun is free, there are hundreds of locations, etc., so I imagine that this is a perceived social barrier. Surely not everyone on here who enjoys parkrun is middle class? I am genuinely horrified that something so easy to do could be exclusive. How can we extend our reach?

I'd really like other people's input. My interest, outside of being a human being and believing that we all deserve the best of everything (wishy-washy liberal blah blah...) is that I am setting up a parkrun and I hope it will be as inclusive as possible.

I hope this post is acceptable. If not, I'm sorry, mods, and please delete.

108 Replies
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Buddy34

As far as I'm concerned parkrun is for anyone and everyone . The only reason I have just started parkrun is that there wasn't one as close to me as I needed it to be and now there is . 😊

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to Buddy34

Thanks Buddy34. Accessibility is everything, isn’t it? X

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SlowLoris
SlowLorisGraduate10

It’s a good point. I don’t have an answer though. I’ve never seen Parkrun actively promoted in the community.

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AlMorr
AlMorrGraduate10
in reply to SlowLoris

C25k is promoted on BBC TV during events such as the London Marathon, the Great North and Scottish Runs but not parkruns, however, during the London 10K they had a feature about parkruns.

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SlowLoris
SlowLorisGraduate10
in reply to AlMorr

Preaching to the converted Al

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UnfitNoMore
UnfitNoMoreModerator
in reply to SlowLoris

Agreed... I think it’s got to be word of mouth as most parkruns would be in trouble if a couple of thousand people turned up on Saturday. Projects like the partnership with GP surgeries are helping some of the needy, maybe they should do similar with schools and prevent some of the need arising... I think they have a school run in the pipeline though as I saw something in the App Store.

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to UnfitNoMore

Interesting. I dream of having hundreds of people at ‘my’ parkrun. What a great headache to have. 😉

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Oldgirlruns

I missed that interview on PM so don’t know what he was trying to say but in my view the whole point of Parkrun is that it’s a community run and open to all - and long may it continue that way! But you’re right to say that there may be a communication issue - and doctors could do a lot to point their patients towards Pr, which many of them now do of course. Otherwise it tends to be word of mouth I think, which is bound to be limiting. Parkrun HQ might be interested to hear your thoughts. Good luck with setting up your Parkrun, what a star you are!

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to Oldgirlruns

I wrote to my super parkrun contact immediately. I planned to leaflet GP surgeries, medical centres etc, but I know how I felt turning up alone, so there’s still that hurdle. Thanks for your lovely comments x

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backintime
backintimeGraduate10

I'm not seeing how it can be exclusive. They are in public areas and from what I've seen most have directions how to get there on public transport. No need for a car, no special kit as long as you can run.

Not living in the UK I have no idea of the whole advertising / promotional aspect that goes on around it, but I would think schools (all ages for Junior parkrun too), doctor's waiting rooms, walk in clinics, youth centres, unemployment offices, town halls, etc. would all be good places for a poster or promotional material if there is any. Or pubs (pub to parkrun)...

Also online presence would be good advertising. I only heard about it from here.

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to backintime

I think it’s exclusive if you don’t know what it is, or anyone who goes and don’t want to go alone. That’s my challenge, I think. I’m not in the UK either so I’m also working in a foreign language and although I speak French, it’s not always obvious how something sounds to a native speaker. (True inclusivity requires a level of integration that I don’t feel I have.)

Still, I’m enjoying the challenge. X

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backintime
backintimeGraduate10
in reply to Lizzisforliving

Yes the language barrier can be hard even when you're fluent. I think it's you that told me the Parc Montsouris parkrun is very "ex-pat" ?

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to backintime

Yes, very friendly but only one or 2 French people when I was there.

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JonathanP
JonathanPGraduate10

I think there is probably currently some truth in the statement Lizz, but as you can see from the link, parkrun uk and Sport England are making great efforts to address it .

sportengland.org/news-and-f...

More power to their elbow - and to yours in setting one up! What a fantastic thing to do👍😀

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Dexy5
Dexy5Graduate10
in reply to JonathanP

That’s interesting JonathanP, a great use of lottery money. But I hope they also link it with something like c25k. To be encouraged to turn up at parkrun and expect to be converted into a runner could have the opposite result.

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to Dexy5

Good point, Dexy5. You’re absolutely right, C25K is a natural nursery for future parkrunners.

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Granspeed
Granspeed60minGraduate
in reply to Dexy5

This is just what I was thinking, Dexy5. I felt the same about the recent tv program that featured Parkrun. The link to C25k or some other “starter plan” seems important. You could do it all at Parkrun by walk-running, but that’s not a natural approach for a complete newbie, I’m sure. And it’s not really Parkrun’s focus to provide safe training.

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Dexy5
Dexy5Graduate10
in reply to Granspeed

And the lady in that programme did do c25k to get running but they didn’t mention it. Someone on the c25k forum knows her.

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JonathanP
JonathanPGraduate10
in reply to Dexy5

Yes I agree there needs to be greater collaboration although I think c25k is primarily an individual activity whereas parkrun is community-based, so people would be more likely to move from the former to the latter. The most important thing is that the NHS promotes c25k which their website does although health professionals need to do more.

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to JonathanP

Thank you for this. I didn’t know Sport England and the lottery were doing this but it’s a brilliant initiative.

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to JonathanP

Thank you for your kind words. This SportEngland initiative sounds great. I also found a Kelly Holmes-fronted TV programme about parkrun. It’s no longer available on iPlayer, but I hope lots of people saw it when it was shown in July.

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JonathanP
JonathanPGraduate10
in reply to Lizzisforliving

Yes I thought it was good particularly as it was about this very issue - setting up a parkrun in a disadvantaged community.

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Madge50
Madge50Graduate10

I’d agree with SlowLoris , I can’t say that I’ve ever seen parkrun actively promoted in the community, for example, I have to drive to mine. I’d heard about it through word of mouth and going to a running event.

I’m lucky I have the choice of several - driving distance away, but I’ve never seen posters on noticeboards in my village, or at my doctors surgery.....we also have a quarterly parish and local council magazine, i’ve never seen any ads in there either........there’s an idea......

Good luck with your parkrun, i’m sure it will be a great success 👏👍

Mx

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Dexy5
Dexy5Graduate10
in reply to Madge50

Our local paper regularly features parkrun events in the area. Maybe the journalist is a parkrunner too.

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to Dexy5

Yes, I have to find someone like that near here.

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to Madge50

Hi Madge, I am in an area where parkrun is completely unknown so as soon as I have formal permission (the process is dragging but it’s looking positive) I plan to get leaflets and posters to GP surgeries, libraries and ads into the local press. I think it’s a bit ambitious to expect people who have never thought of running to come along until it’s better known, so I’ll have to chat up some local journalists, teachers, medical professionals and town hall staff to keep getting the word out.

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Madge50
Madge50Graduate10
in reply to Lizzisforliving

I know I’m talking to the converted here, don’t forget the value of volunteering, there’s another one near us trying to get going in the grounds of the local mental health hospital, the physical activity is one thing, but the benefits of just being there with others is equally as life changing - personally I’m so looking forward to this one, and I will definitely go and support it - there are a lot of ‘runners’ on the staff, so I’m sure it will have a lot of enthusiasm, and they won’t be short of a core team.

All the best again, it’s a brilliant thing you are doing.

Mx

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to Madge50

Thank you, Madge50

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Dexy5
Dexy5Graduate10

parkrun is certainly free for all, and some of us are choosing to contribute to parkrun forever to ensure that that remains the case while it continues to grow around the country. So anyone from any class can do it if they want to, so long as they can get to one easily and cheaply. Many GPs in our area are recommending it to their patients to help both mental and physical health. But I assume the question is - Are people from the working class and lower educated groups actually taking part each week, and if not, why not? I do hope so, but I think the great thing about parkrun is that you don't know what the person running next to you does for a living or whether they live in a mansion or a council flat. You are all runners together and you are all in this to enjoy a weekly run. I think the same can be said of C25K and these forums. Short of doing a poll, which could be perceived as being divisive, I'm not sure we can find out.

Good luck with your parkrun set up and I hope you can make it reach everyone by maybe promoting it in your local community centre and local newspaper.

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to Dexy5

Oh my god, I was not suggesting a poll, nor do I care what class anyone considers themselves to be - what a terrible thought - I simply wondered if parkrun was failing to attract people because they were outside of the community and don’t know it exists or that they are welcome. (It could be self-exclusion through age, or as we read so often on here, perceived ability.) I think I am worrying about this because I’m an English woman setting up a parkrun in France and I really want to have lots of French participants and not to create a purely expat activity. So far I have British newbies who will walk it at first, and experienced French runners. The doctor’s throwaway comment made me realise that I could actively look for French people to come along who have never thought of running.

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2718281

I think it's an interesting question, I haven't listened to the interview so I don't know what he was thinking, but maybe he was thinking about a single-parent who doesn't have support to leave the kids on a Saturday morning? It would apply to almost any activity... I guess it could be more the social situation rather than the economic one, although running can be expensive!

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to 2718281

It really was a throwaway comment, and one example in a list - it just caught my ear. I think you’re right that opportunity is often a practical consideration- I’ll see what I can do about car pooling, for starters, and maybe ask my gp what might make it easier for people to come along. Thank you.

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UnfitNoMore
UnfitNoMoreModerator

Parkrun is for everyone, in the same way as running is free. As most of us have hopefully found out, a trip to the running store for gait analysis tends to land us with some pretty expensive footwear, for most of us that first pair of shoes is the most expensive we’ve ever owned.

I know parkrun are looking at being more inclusive too... part of that is getting a parkrun in the places with the most need, and that’s not always easy... the startup volunteers are probably going to be established runners, and if there aren’t many nearby then it’s not going to be easy to get off the ground. Also, rather sadly, some parks aren’t suitable... there’s a couple locally to me where you’d run the risk of a used hypodermic going through your shoes.

If your local parkrun is 5 miles away and you’re broke, it’s difficult to get to. Parkrun are looking at this.

Strangely I’ve found one parkrun near me which is very middle class and snobby with it, and another in one of the richest parts of town which is very much the model of inclusivity.

I think parkrun is like anything else... it depends on the people. None of the inclusivity issues are in any way the fault of parkrun in my opinion.

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to UnfitNoMore

Thanks, UnfitNoMore. We’re in a very rural area, and the proposed route is beautiful, well-maintained countryside. I think transport may be an issue, but more than that, it’s quite a split area - town and country (farm labourers as well as landowners), wealthy and minimum wage or chronically unemployed, and the two groups don’t really mix. I need to think seriously about how to encourage people with no spare cash to come along and see if they like it.

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UnfitNoMore
UnfitNoMoreModerator
in reply to Lizzisforliving

It would be great for the local community if something like parkrun could be used to tear down the barriers. Maybe a new volunteer roll for runners willing to pick up runners in town to drive them in and out would help a little.

While parkrun loves to grow runs, it’s normally done quite covertly as 1000 runners turning up at a run used to 50 can cause huge issues for volunteers, especially timers... and if they’re still using the stopwatches it’s impossible to handle more than 500 unless you know it’s likely to happen. Growing it gradually is less stressful, so I’d be looking to target small groups to get them to try it. GPs can prescribe parkrun, maybe the local high school could promote it a little (though they may need a C25K group first)

While not wanting to stereotype anybody, the “chronically unemployed” is a group that probably doesn’t include many runners... getting them running is the real challenge, if we can do that, they will come to parkrun.

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Bazza1234
Bazza1234Graduate10

A lot depends on what country we are talking about ( I know this is a UK based forum - but parkrun is big in many places around the World) - and also what we mean when we say "middle class". Personally I think that is a very outdated term -- is a Bank Manager "middle class" or "working class". I know what the answer to that may have been 50 + years ago - but today, in my view, if you have to work for a living then you are working class :) Hence everybody who attends in my local parkrun is working class - except perhaps for those retired pensioners like me. :)

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to Bazza1234

Hi Bazza1234, I apologise for using ‘middle class’ - it was lazy shorthand but I think most people know what it means. I was concerned that the doctor’s impression was that parkrun wasn’t perceived as being for everyone. I agree that on this board we think mostly about UK parkrun, but I’m in France, in an area with lots of wealthy retirees (French and foreign) where there is of course also a large local working population whom I am keen to include.

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HeavyFoot
HeavyFootGraduate10
in reply to Lizzisforliving

First, Liz, where in France are you setting up? I’d like to use a PR when I’m over but my nearest is 2 hours away near Toulouse which, for me, is unjustifiable timewise and environmentally.

This does lead back to your main theme in that public transport and lack of it might be a big factor that militates against inclusivity.

More basic however are questions of mindset and expectations. Not necessarily money.

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to HeavyFoot

Uzès- 40km from Avignon, 25 from Nîmes. Toulouse was my closest, at over 3hours, which is why I’m (trying to) set this one up.

Hope that’s close enough for you. 😀

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HeavyFoot
HeavyFootGraduate10
in reply to Lizzisforliving

Sadly, no. I’m south of Perpignan. I was a student 40 years ago in Alès and have fond memories of solexing over to Uzès. Beautiful!!

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Coddfish
CoddfishGraduate10

I am probably parkrun’s biggest fan, but I do think there are enormous cultural and lifestyle barriers to participation. Look around a parkrun. Whilst you will see all ages, shapes and sizes, you will also see people overwhelmingly of a similar background. Originating in communities where people wanted a parkrun, it’s not really spread into the socially deprived areas.

I live in the wealthy end of a city with a very mixed population. My city has two parkruns, one on the seaside prom and the other in a business park / nature reserve. The people living in the areas of deprivation don’t venture into those areas, they perceive it’s not for them, it’s a cultural barrier.

A few years ago I had some involvement with a charity providing support for troubled families living in my city. None of the kids involved had been to the beach before, this in a city where no home is more than 2 miles from the shore.

Many of the people in that community would also have an issue with the concept of exercise. There’s a lot of obesity, type 2 diabetes, poor diets, poor lifestyles.

Parkrun has a grant from Sport England specifically to help drive participation in deprived areas.

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to Coddfish

Thank you Coddfish. It makes perfect sense when you explain it like that. I’ll do my best to make ‘mine’ inclusive, but I should be realistic, I guess. I was cross with the doctor for criticising parkrun, but he was obviously speaking, like you, from experience.

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Gwenllian1
Gwenllian160minGraduate

This is an issue I have never thought about before but certainly my park run, which is brilliant, would not be accessible at all by public transport. It is very little publicised so that I learnt about it from this forum and c25k and probably learnt of c25k itself from television coverage which mentioned it in the context of the marathon and sent me to the website. We have some rural poverty in our area and I can't imagine people in those outlying farms and villages knowing about park run and, even if they did know, feeling that it was for them.

So I'm sure that our local park runners and volunteers, lovely as they all are, would be horrified by the idea that they were a middle class organisation. I'm equally sure that loads of people who would benefit don't know park run exists and wouldn't feel it was for them even if they did know.

What to do? Small steps maybe. As you say, contact with gps in deprived areas, publicity, publicity, publicity. Good luck. I'm so impressed and delighted by what you are doing!

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to Gwenllian1

Thank you. If ever you’re in Uzès, near(ish) Avignon, Nîmes and the Pont du Gard, do come to our parkrun. (Assuming my meeting with the council goes well!)

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Bazza1234
Bazza1234Graduate10

Lizzi - there is an old saying "you can lead a horse to water but you cant make him drink!!! " parkrun has always been a "ground up" organisation with individuals like you starting up a local parkrun event with the help of enthusiastic others . That enthusiasm is then supported by the enthusiastic local parkrunners who see what benefit it could be/is for them. Without a minimum amount of enthusuasm all around and a desire to do well by others and to oneself, you may as well whistle into the wind :( I dont think it is an economic thing - but perhaps is a socio-economic thing.

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alisonr54

Well not sure about socioeconomic stuff but it’s not accessible to me because of where I live. I just couldn’t do a more than 60 mile trip by (very rare) public transport at that time on a Saturday morning!

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to alisonr54

Could you set one up nearer you? 😀

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alisonr54

Not sure what’s involved and even less sure it would get support locally. I don’t think many have even heard of parkrun to be honest! I hadn’t til I joined this forum. Might be worth asking around though.

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ArthurJG
ArthurJGGraduate10

Location location location. A regular poster here lives on Skye, over a hundred miles from the nearest parkrun in Fort William.

A lot of poorer areas don’t have a parkrun. I drive ten miles to my local one: not an issue for me but not everyone has the means. It costs three thousand pounds to set up a parkrun: raising that funding is easier in some communities than others. As has been said, there is a programme to try and do something about that.

If you saw the recent programme with Kelly Holmes about setting up a new parkrun in Strabane, they had another issue there: they didn’t have a park! They managed to persuade a large school to allow the use of its grounds.

Here in Arbroath we do have ample green space but even so, I don’t know where you’d put a traffic free 5k route- I run along the wonderful coastal path but it’s too narrow for a parkrun. All the GP practices in Montrose promote parkrun but not in Arbroath because the town doesn’t have one.

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hamit

If you want to you will and if you don't you won't, that goes for any individual.

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ArthurJG
ArthurJGGraduate10
in reply to hamit

Not true I’m afraid. If you read the thread you’ll see why.

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to hamit

I’m not sure that’s true, Hamit. If you never go to a park, have no running shoes, are tired from your minimum wage job, have friends and family who are similarly sedentary, it’s a huge undertaking. Imagine people who don’t read well (or not the language of the country). Imagine people who are out of breath climbing 10 steps. If they don’t know they can start a programme such as C25K, they will think sport is not for them.

I don’t want to promote an activity to a narrow section of society, I want everyone to know about it and to choose (or reject) it for themselves.

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hamit

Well I still do not agree

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martinhermanus

You may have read all the sickness which exercise / running helps with. It is strange that people choose to stay away. In south africa most people who attend the parkrun are very middle and upper class. Many of less privileged are unfortunately eating snack food and extremely overweight. Health for me is about loving and caring for your body it takes energy to do that. Our government want to implement an NHS ... Would be good to have a point system encouraging a healthy life style. For every five parkruns is enough points to see a doctor. 😎

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ArthurJG
ArthurJGGraduate10
in reply to martinhermanus

Seriously? Have a think about what you’re saying there.

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martinhermanus

My daughter is a dietitian and she warms people again and again when overweight. Heart breaking job of eventually saying you are a diabetic. Someone is paying. We need to support people in every possible way to make better life choices.

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ArthurJG
ArthurJGGraduate10
in reply to martinhermanus

That’s good. Blaming the poor for the symptoms of poverty, well that’s less good. There are reasons for their behaviours.

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to martinhermanus

I hope your last sentence is just a joke. For the rest, you have seen with your own eyes what this doctor was saying. I would love to break down this barrier just a little bit. If I can help one person who feels it’s not for them to get involved, they will talk to their friends and the word will spread. Small, steady steps, just like W1R1.

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martinhermanus

Thank you, I am motivating my friends one by one to enjoy some form of exercise and especially joining parkrun event.

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Pinkpig20

I see Park run as inclusive & should be available to all. If you don’t have a car to travel to a park run & its too far to walk, & maybe you can’t pay for transport then this could stop some people.

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Saxart

Running and parkruns are more inclusive than alot of other sport's. I took part in a c25k run by Active in Life which is sponsored by the local council. It charged £10 for people who don't exercise and £20 for those who do. To finish the course and graduate involved running at a parkrun. some people need to start a new habit and run with others as they need the encouragement others will find every excuse why it's not there fault they can't exercise.

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to Saxart

I could afford that, but even so having to pay may have put me off. If your weekly budget is tight, you won’t consider paying to do an activity. I would prefer some kind of incentive such as a tee shirt if you complete the programme, or a water bottle, or something health / fitness related. The local council / health authority should see that as an investment.

I support the idea, though, of getting people who do no exercise to start.

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Saxart

If you completed the program you got a free t-shirt and other goodies. But I found if you pay you're more likely to turn up.

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Knittingrunner
KnittingrunnerGraduate10

Do you think it is to do with a few things. Accessibility is obviously one thing. Depending on where people are depends on how easy they are to get to. Maybe they need car share options. It might also reduce the carbon footprint. Secondly it might be todo with perceived cost of running/walking gear. I do know of a charity which provides running shoes for homeless people perhaps local Parkruns could have a swap shop or donations for vulnerable people. Lastly I think there is something to be said about GPs and other health professionals perception of who runs. I think promoting the wide spectrum of people who attend might help to break down those barriers. Good luck with your parkrun. 🏃🏻‍♀️😊

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to Knittingrunner

Thank you Knittingrunner. Do you think donating second hand shoes is feasible? (I can feel the difference when I run in my old and my new shoes, and I hate the idea of giving someone something that is no longer 'good enough' for me. On the other hand, I hate waste, and never throw them away :) ) I don't think French stores are very charitably minded, but I wonder if the big sports chains might donate a few cheap pairs? If ever I have time, I'll look into it. (This thread has given me so many ideas.)

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Knittingrunner
KnittingrunnerGraduate10
in reply to Lizzisforliving

When I heard the lady from the charity speaking she said they had tried second hand shoes but it didn’t really work so they give the people new shoes but had used second hand clothes like leggings and tops but were switching to new stuff that was donated.

Its such a shame though if people are put off because they feel they don’t have the right clothes etc. I have passed on some clothes to friends as I lost weight and that at least saves waste.

Good luck though.

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to Knittingrunner

Yes, there's something so personal about shoes. What you describe sounds better.

We have to pay a small 'eco-contribution' when we buy consumer electrical goods, in France, to help with disposal. I would be happy to pay a small sum on top of my running gear price to go to a fund for kit for people who can't afford it. Maybe one of the big companies could take up that kind of idea.

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Knittingrunner
KnittingrunnerGraduate10
in reply to Lizzisforliving

That sounds like a good idea. 😊

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Tulipcat

At risk of repeating what others might have said...

....but I’ve no time this morning to read all the comments, so apologies if I reiterate...

Parkrun is free, and running is touted as the ‘free’ sport but, as we know, the gear is not free: I’ve just bought a decent pair of running shoes for injury free running for over a hundred quid. And a decent sweat wicking top aint cheap either. I’ve recently wondered whether trainers should be available on prescription to those in certain socio-economic groups who are prescribed sports gym membership to lose weight and/or get fit... not something we can solve, but hey ho. Is there a fund raising opportunity here to subsidise vouchers for shoes?

Perception barriers probably don’t help especially when combined with financial barriers. The arts have this same issue. But schools projects can help: is there a parkrun schools’ initiative? This is often an effective way to target a demographic: enthuse the children and the parents find out about it and sometimes follow. This is how a theatre I’ve worked with got people in (who had never ever been to the theatre before) to see the RSC on tour (with free tickets as well I might add so that there were no financial barriers to add to any perception barriers).

I wonder if the starting out bit is too daunting when considering cost and perception: ‘this is too expensive and my kind of people don’t do this...’ At the outset 5k seems so daunting enough. And C25K can be a lonely enterprise. Without the forum I would have been lost. Could there be a one kilometre taster run/walk for the starters to enthuse more into starting to have a go?

And finally, for some, female or male, with #metoo experiences, running alone is terrifying. I can truly say I’ve reclaimed the landscape around me but I still feel on high alert and I can understand those who refuse this sport out of this kind of fear. I have now shifted from suspicion of fellow runners and dog walkers to companionship, but without a gym membership and treadmill access, I might give up running as the long winter nights draw in.

Leaflets, schools, run-buddies, local papers, GP awareness of local running clubs. Like Tesco, every little helps.

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Granspeed
Granspeed60minGraduate
in reply to Tulipcat

Lots of excellent suggestions here, Tulipcat. Very thought-provoking. A key question for me is always “Is there anything I can do to help this?” and there’s food for thought here. I specially like the idea of fund raising for shoes - an obvious way for runners to pass on the love; hope someone with appropriate leverage reads this one! But anyone can do the buddy thing - will be on the lookout there myself, not for Parkrun but for getting started. 👍

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to Tulipcat

Hi Tulipcat, your theatre analogy is interesting (I worked in theatre for 20 years, so I know exactly what you're talking about). I think it could be a good idea for us to talk to walking participants about C25K - I'll see what I can do. Thanks for all your ideas.

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Antilala2018
Antilala2018Graduate10

I live in a fairly typical northern town 😁, and thinking of my local parkrun I would say it’s inclusive but I agree with what others have said about the link with C25K. I doubt lots of people would feel confident enough for to turn up to park run before they felt confident jogging (run walk running) near the distance.

My daughters primary school for example invited parents to complete the C25K programme and following graduation they were all going to run our local parkrun. So I think more community C25K’s groups or Run walk run groups might help break down any perceived barriers - all so reliant on our wonderful volunteers setting groups up of course.

The Head teacher of my daughters school is a keen runner and parkrun regular so he is passionate about getting people moving. And my MP had a parkrun group on WhatsApp! We have a junior parkrun on a Sunday as well. I think once people feel ready they would feel welcome and included - it’s getting to that point.

I was a park run tourist in Norfolk over the summer and their numbers swell significantly over the summer holidays. You could feel that this puts pressure on them.

🏃🏼‍♀️🏃🏽‍♂️🏃🏼‍♀️🏃🏽‍♂️🏃🏻‍♀️

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theoldfellow
theoldfellowGraduate10

I think we are missing something. And that is peer pressure and family history.

If you grow up in an environment where you are encouraged to try stuff, supported when you fail, and not criticised for doing things your group has never done before, then getting out and starting C25K, and Parkrun, will be natural and normal.

But there are lots of people who believe that they cannot ever succeed at anything new they try, they have had this ground into them from childhood - three generations of living on benefits etc... It's easy to blame them, but in fact it isn't their fault at all. And it takes a friend to get them out of that state and into the 'I can do this!' club that we joined.

It took me a long time to discover this, and stop assuming that just because it's freely available, everyone can access it. Some people just don't have the emotional equipment to do it without help.

Every one of us on this forum felt empowered to start posting here, but there will be a load of people who lurk, watching and wondering, not daring to express an opinion or ask a question, never mind getting off the couch and starting week 1.

Which is why how we are on this forum is so important, and why we can make a huge difference to a life by being that friend, in the flesh or on-line.

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to theoldfellow

That’s beautifully expressed, TOF, and applies in all aspects of life. I hope we are all making a small difference. X

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pogol

Not read all posts so apologies if repeating- parkrun is free to attend unless you have to travel to the run the cost is printing out your barcode this requires computer access smartphone etc and printing which might be out of some people’s reach. Add in trainers and clothes and it might start to become more expensive but if determined I believe parkrun is accessible equitable and welcoming to all

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E27M14
E27M14Graduate10

Have to admit, I had thought the same myself. I live in Swindon. The outlying villages are quite white middle class but the town itself is very multicultural. However, at parkrun, I have seen two or three girls running wearing a hijab, and one or two Asian looking men but otherwise, the vast majority of the runners are white. Not sure why this is or what can be done to address it but parkrun should be and is for everyone.

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to E27M14

Small steps. x

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martinhermanus

I hope I am not stepping on two many toes when I say the ultimate would be when a doctors prescribes exercise as a medicine. The same can apply to many emotional issues like unforgiveness which we carry around for years which is toxic to the human body. I was recently mugged and knocked unconscious so am also walking the road of forgiveness to release those toxic emotions. Most people from all social classes are unaware of the power of exercise to heal the human body.

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Buddy34

Years and years ago I visited the doctor because i had put on weight and she prescribed me 6 weeks free gym pass. I live in Scotland and don't know if it's still available. But the best thing I did was join c25k in October 2018 . I now love running and being outside😊

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martinhermanus

You went to a wonderful doctor👍😎

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Buddy34

She really is , last May I went to see her again then this year just over 3st lighter I saw her and she was really pleased that I had been running that all started with c25k

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Miss-fuschia
Miss-fuschiaGraduate10

I live in quite a deprived area and there are no park runs in the near area but I do see a lot of joggers around which is great! A few mums at my sons nursery have done the C25K and I know they live in the council estates so running is accessible but maybe it’s true it does appeal to more middle class people which is shame! My doctor is very enthusiastic about my running and has said how good park runs are, even my dentist today recommended them! I don’t mind running on my own though but I can see how benificial they are and should be encouraged!

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to Miss-fuschia

What would you say might encourage these runners to try parkrun? Is it local access? It's great that your doctor see the benefits - might s/he spread the word among her/his other patients? Is there a community minibus or similar that you could use to take a group of people to your nearest event? (I know I sound pushy, sorry, but I think doing an activity with other people makes it more likely that they'll keep doing it, whatever the weather.)

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YeahIcan

I haven’t been to a Parkrun yet, but I plan to. I apologise to previous commenters if this has been mentioned already.

I am a stay at home mum and also a student. Living near Grimsby, however a nice part. Financially we are definitely working class, although seen as being middle judging by the jokes our friends make.

The main reason I have not been to a Parkrun yet is the time that it takes place. Often on a Friday night (most Fridays) my husband and I enjoy a few beers. Sometimes this is just us, so we can reflect on the week, or sometimes it’s to let our hair down with friends. I am simply worried about driving at that time in the morning after a few beers. Should the Parkrun start at 10, I’d definitely be there.

I know that I could just have an easy night, but those beers, and that time together (where hubby needs to drink to loosen up) are a supporting strength in our relationship. They feel more important than the Parkrun. Please don’t judge too harshly!

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to YeahIcan

Hi YeahIcan (great user name), you raise an important point.

Parkrun being at the same time every week is great because wherever you are in the world you know (rare local variations, notwithstanding) that you can go along to any event at 9am on a Saturday morning. However, your family life must take precedence. I know other enthusiasts on here might suggest that you go along with your husband, and enjoy the reward of a few beers on Saturday instead. But parkrun isn't a cult, and you are right to put yourselves first. (but if your husband liked the idea... ;-) )

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YeahIcan

Thank you for your reply. It would be easily possible for us to drink on the Saturday night instead should we want to. Hubby is in no way a runner/jogger etc so there is no chance of him coming out with me. But he does support me.

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to YeahIcan

He sounds like a keeper. xxx

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Fleetnot

I don't think my local run is accessible by public transport. Also although you can run in normal clothes everyone there had all ' the gear,' and running shoes are expensive. Having initially run in my old trainers and then having to pay to see a podiatrist I am now very aware incorrect footwear causes problems! Should have taken advice on here to buy proper shoes after week 4. Also having been an inner city nurse there are lots of areas where people would be concerned about running alone particularly in the winter when it's dark. To do park runs you need to run more than once a week...

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Runningfit
RunningfitGraduate10

Interesting discussion.

London parkruns can be more cliquey with fast runners (30 mins and under) I ve chatted to a few but the "fast" are in their groups...I run alone because I m in the 37 minute plus and we re spread out...

Parkrun ..as on this thread ....is seen as the end of c25k.

So it isnt inclusive if you are expected to do your own c25k first...tho some parkrun stories have people going along and walking initially.

There are enough debates on that..."dont come if you dont run"...clearly some parkruns will be more open to encourage someone to come and walk it.

But there is too much emphasis on parkRUN

If you want to be inclusive have it advertised as parkRun/parkWALK and INVITE people to come and.walk it...encourage people to join in WALKING . no doubt over time they will be motivated to begin running a little then more.

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UpTheStanley
UpTheStanleyGraduate10
in reply to Runningfit

I’m sorry, but that’s asking too much of Parkrun. It is after all a social RUNNING event, organised locally by runner volunteers for runners of all standards, but one at which walkers are welcome (in my experience anyway) and will be gently encouraged to push themselves and maybe run a bit one day. The timing infrastructure is there to allow you to compete with yourself on a weekly basis, or identify targets and chase them if you want to. You don’t need Parkrun if you just want to go for a non-competitive walk, and if you want to walk in company there are other organisations that offer that.

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theoldfellow
theoldfellowGraduate10
in reply to UpTheStanley

I'm with you on that UTS. I don't mind people who run/walk, especially beginners or nonagenarians, but the volunteers put it on, what you do with it is your business. It's Parkrun!

That having been said, if YOU want to take a non-runner and bring them along, we will welcome them, encourage them, and maybe turn them into runners. Just don't expect the volunteers to do it.

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UpTheStanley
UpTheStanleyGraduate10
in reply to theoldfellow

I did - she's called Dexy5, and she's now doing it to Oldgirlruns :-) - and so it goes!

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to Runningfit

Thank you, Runningfit. I wasn't aware of the "don't come if you don't run" ethos, and frankly the parkrun I'm setting up has mostly attracted interest from potential walkers so far, so we won't be going down that route, at least initially. However, I understand that parkrun implies running, and I don't want to mess with a winning formula.

When I started this thread I had no idea what to expect, and the variety of responses has given me a lot to think about.

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Runningfit
RunningfitGraduate10
in reply to Lizzisforliving

I wasnt going to respond to above but Parkrun says you can walk jog whatever ...

support.parkrun.com/hc/en-u...

But you can see there is a view from others that walking is not really ok...you have to try to run "it s a run".

So..officiallyit a parkrunwalkjog.

And that is awesome.

Unofficially

Some want to keep it "run" only and that is the attitude in some parkruns which can put people off....

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to Runningfit

Okay, thanks. For the moment, this will not be the attitude here. Who knows how it will develop and grow? Luckily, that's not my responsibility. (I hope. It isn't, is it? This is all getting rather overwhelming.)

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Runningfit
RunningfitGraduate10
in reply to Lizzisforliving

The more open you make it the better

If it is to be a real community

There are some great parkrun inclusivity stories. I hope you will ho down that route.

Good luck

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IAmCharliemouse

Fascinating topic, thanks for raising.

For those that want to listen, go to bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qs... and choose 10th September. Story begins at 26:50 and parkrun is mentioned at 32:46.

The doctor specifically is talking about the fact that not everyone can afford park runs, and other things such as yoga. It does sound like a throwaway comment, and it is in the context of not providing exercise therapy on the NHS for people who will otherwise be prescribed antidepressants or painkillers.

I think the only financial cost of entry to parkrun is travelling to the venue, and this is a real issue. I live on the edge of London, and even here nearby venues are simply not practical to reach without a car. Middle of London is better, and I'm sure that is the case for many cities. But it still involves a cost. Most people have some sort of clothing, including shoes, that they could walk or run in, even if it's not the best.

It would be great to see some sort of free shuttle to and from the nearest train or bus station, to parkrun venues. Surely that could be something the local council or NHS could sponsor. But I'm sure there would be many hoops to jump through to make it happen.

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UpTheStanley
UpTheStanleyGraduate10
in reply to IAmCharliemouse

If it is just the financial cost (link didn't work for me) then all Parkrun as an organisation can do to help is reduce the weekly entry fee ……. which will be extremely difficult :-)

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IAmCharliemouse

Fixed the link - doesn't like you going there directly.

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IAmCharliemouse

And I agree. I think it was an unfair remark to lump parkrun together with activities that obviously cost money.

But there are potentially things that we (the overall community) could do to improve the accessibility of parkrun, if we could persuade health and council providers to invest in that benefit.

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Lavender1962
Lavender1962Graduate10

I’m an Event Director in Canada in a city where the majority of the population are French speaking. Our parkrun is 2 years old. At the beginning the volunteers who started our parkrun were Canadians who had done or heard about parkrun in other countries. Our runs started out with less than 20 participants mostly tourists from the UK and other English speakers to now having between 70 - 85 participants most who are French speaking locals. Our presence on social media helped with exposure but it was word of mouth that increased our numbers. We had a few local runners that were members of running clubs or groups who started telling friends and posting about it.

Although we have now attracted francophones we lack diversity in other ways. Most of our runners are quite fast and involved in the local running community. We are located in a large urban park close to an economically disadvantaged area and other areas less so. We are trying to attract more families, more people from the neighbourhood and more walkers to make our run more inclusive. We talk to people we see in the park - runners and walkers and tell them about parkrun.

Last weekend we had a booth at a community event in the park. Many of the people who we spoke to at the event were unaware of our existence. We’ll see in the next couple of weeks if more people from the neighbourhood come and join us.

I’m not sure if my post is helpful but I thought in some ways our experience might be similar to yours.

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10
in reply to Lavender1962

Hi Lavender, thank you for sharing your experience. I'm encouraged that your numbers grew and that you are continuing to recruit participants. I am starting to realise that we have to be proactive, especially to extend our reach and not just rely on word of mouth.

I hope you get some newcomers after your event. Good luck.

love Lizz xxx

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MarkyD
MarkyDGraduate10

I’m known for taking a contrary view. parkrun is extremely middle class, and appeals to the health-motivated, community-minded population. In leafy west-Berkshire where I live there is a large group of people struggling. If you don’t know how you are going to pay your rent, or have to budget carefully to feed your family, you’re going to be under extreme stress all the time. Your decisions are about survival, and running on a Saturday morning is just so alien that it won’t happen. I get so so cross with the “find a job” or the “cut back on junk food” brigade. Unless you have lived with the daily struggle, no government intervention or GP advice or Healthy Eating campaign is going to have any impact. If we want to improve the health of the nation, we need to start by reducing the grinding daily stress. That means housing security, job security and a system of needs-based support (I mean social income that meets basic needs, not a punishment for needing help). Stress is revealed in a wide range of indicators, for example chaotic lives, or drug/alcohol use, violence (domestic or street), a huge range of physical and mental medical conditions, poor diet and early death.

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Lizzisforliving
LizzisforlivingGraduate10

I understand everything you’ve said. I find running really reduces my stress levels, but I accept that my life is not chaotic in the ways you describe, and that I’m extremely lucky. When I started this thread, I didn’t know how much there was to think about: I can see that I have a big challenge ahead. Thank you for your observations.

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whibbles

An interesting post and it did get me thinking. Paul Sinton-Hewitt, the founder of parkrun, came to our local parkrun in France while he was on holiday and I was very impressed by his humility and his determination to maintain the core values of the parkrun. “parkrun is all about inclusiveness and wellbeing. We want as many people as possible to feel part of a real local community brought together by our events”. I did find this blog blog.parkrun.com/uk/2018/12... which is about "Increasing female participation and encouraging more people from low socioeconomic communities to take part in free, weekly, social activity will be the focus of a new collaboration between Sport England and park run". I've done parkruns in Cape Town, the UK and France and yes, I have found them to be predominantly"white, middle class" so I will try to make our local parkrun more inclusive and perhaps its the responsibility of each parkrun to do this. I love the spirit,encouragement and ethos of the parkrun and have enough anxieties to deal with so I dont want to feel guilty about participating in my local parkrun 😉

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Ssasqueen
SsasqueenGraduate10

I joined parkrun after seeing information at my GPs in fact I started vouch to 5K because I liked the sound of parkrun. I was nearing 50 overweight and unfit and wanted a cheap cardio class where I could exercise with others. I was scared before first park run about fitting in or not managing to complete the course but obviously all was well. My GP and another in the area are ParkRun Practices- someone from the surgery runs most weeks in a T shirt with the name on and invites anyone connected with the practice to say hi. It was easy enough for me to turn up and say Hi though - white middle class 2:2 kids etc - it could be harder for others. Perhaps approaching local groups to do a quick talk or drop off some leaflets- for example a leaflet drop at the local food bank, promoting free exercise class for all. Or at mums and tots group if your run is buggy friendly. If people feel they are invited it might be easier. Our parkrun team also got involved in a fun day at the park we run in. Giving out information, signing people up and printing barcodes. Getting a barcode and printing it could be difficult so some, libraries can help with that although not everyone feels comfortable in a library

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sTrongFuse
sTrongFuseGraduate10

I think it's a bit of a tricky question. Where I live, I am quite well served by parkruns, although I'm also not, which sounds like a contradiction, but I'll explain.

I live in a small rural village about 15 miles east of Edinburgh. The two parkruns that I regularly attend, Vogrie and Meadowmill, are both about a 10 minute drive from my front door (albeit in opposite directions). A little further out, maybe 20 minutes from my house, I have Lochend Woods in Dunbar and Portobello. Finally, there is the Edinburgh parkrun itself, at Cramond, on the shore, which is probably about a half hour drive.

So, on the one hand, I have 5 runs all fairly local to me, but if I didn't have a car, because of where I live, there would be no easy way for me to get to them because the one (hourly) bus service that serves my village, doesn't go anywhere near any of them.

In general, I find it to be quite a mixed crowd at both Vogrie and Meadowmill; the latter being run, in the main, around council maintained sports fields.

I do agree, it does seem to rely on word-of-mouth though. I only know about parkrun because one of my cousins does her local one up in Elgin. When I took up C25K and joined this forum, I looked at where my local ones were so that I had something to aim towards on completion of the programme.

Of course, for me, because of my rugby commitments on Saturday mornings, parkrun is pretty much a summer only thing for me, and that is perhaps another aspect to consider; parkrun is competing with a number of other activities for the Saturday morning doers.

I am very fortunate though in that, even if I didn't have parkrun, I live in a part of the country that is crisscrossed with country/woodland paths that I am able to lollop gracelessly along, and Meadowmill also hosts my local Jog Scotland group.

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JaoJao
JaoJaoGraduate10

I’m surprised to hear that. I think perhaps parkrun is not readily promoted everywhere. I only found out about parkrun last when a colleague was encouraging me to join up, but I had no idea what he was banging on about! I later found out the parkrun near me is on my doorstep and has been running for 4 years! I just had no idea! I don’t visit the GP much, I don’t have any children who may hear about it at school so how was I meant to know?

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