For those of you who have started running since March 2020, you will have heard about parkrun but not been able to participate. There are a group of us here who are totally addicted to this Saturday get together in our community.
I thought it might be useful to lay out a few hints and tips for beginners, which others may add to.
Most important, go to the parkrun website and register.on parkrun.org.uk/
You will then be able to print off a sheet of 6 personal barcodes. You will need one of these to have your time recorded. Please note that if printed on paper it could get soggy during the run and difficult to scan so it’s wise to laminate in a clear plastic or keep in a sandwich bag. If you decide you love parkrun you can purchase a plastic card or wristband with your barcode on later. I always have a small parkrun card laced onto my shoe so if I forget the big one , I’ll still get scanned . Some people keep an emergency barcode under the insole of their shoe or leave one in the car or bag.
You will be able to check out your local parkrun page online , and it will give you info on location, parking and a description of the course. It may also mention a cafe where some runners/walkers go for post run refreshments. The socialising might be a bit restrained at the moment though .
The run (in England) always starts at 09.00, but it’s worth getting there early, especially the first time . Let a volunteer or the event director know that it’s your first time. There will be a first timers briefing and then a briefing for everyone . Under the Covid rules these will be very brief to avoid everyone being close together for longer than necessary.
There is usually somewhere where you can leave a bag for water, extra layers but I always carry phone , money and key with me in a flip belt.
Remember, It is a run , not a race. You can run, walk or both. At many events you can take a dog (on a short leash) or a push chair but it might be worth trying it on your own for the first time.
I’d recommend starting near the back first time too so that you can run at your own pace and take in everything that’s going on around you. You can also judge where you are in the field for next time.
There will be volunteer marshals around the route to cheer you on, so don’t forget to thank them as you pass by. A volunteer tail walker will also follow the last person so no need to worry about being last.
At the end of the 5k you will enter a funnel and be given a finishing token, which indicates your position in the run. You then need to show this token and your barcode to a volunteer scanner - there will probably be long queues as people space out a bit more. Finishing tokens should always be returned so they can be reused the next week.
You will be sent an email to confirm your place and time later that morning. Please note that the time given will be from the hooter until you cross the finish line. In addition, I always start my watch as I cross the start line so that I know my real 5k run time. Please don’t despair if a mistake has been made. It does happen sometimes but it’s not the end of the world. The main thing is you got out and ran.
When things get back to more normal, you can do some parkrun tourism. Take your barcode to any parkrun event in the world and join in the Saturday fun.
If you are still on c25k and want to take part, it’s important to stick to your usual run on the programme. I did parkrun for the first time as my first run post graduation, and took W9R3 and Jo Whiley along with me.
I hope this is of some help. No doubt lots of other suggestions will follow. But if you have any questions just put them on here. There’s no such thing as a daft question.
Hopefully Scotland, Wales and Ireland will follow soon.