Nordic Walking takes on the Parkrun

Mary Tweed
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Parkrun is the most phenomenal movement that has swept across Britain and the world in the last few years since it began with 13 runners in a park in Teddington in 2004. The chances are there is a Parkrun not far from where you live, as there are 346 weekly events across the UK.

Every Saturday morning at 9am, thousands gather in parks or at National Trust properties across the country to run 5K in a fun, non-competitive environment. The runs are organised by volunteers; many runners alternate running and lending a helping hand. In 2014 alone, over 50,000 volunteers in the UK ensured that Parkruns up and down the land ran smoothly. These free events are open to anyone and are very popular amongst families and dog owners. Indeed, both my 6 year old and my dog are great enthusiasts. There is a wonderful atmosphere with runners supporting each other and volunteers shouting encouragement at every turn. Last Saturday (12th September) saw 73,248 runners take part around the UK, which included 10,074 first timers.

Runners are required to register with Parkrun online. They are given a unique barcode, which is zapped under a scanner at the end of each race to record every individual’s time for that run. Organisers make it clear that Parkruns are not races, but an opportunity to run in an event within your local community. People are encouraged to aim to improve their personal best (PB) and can earn colour coded tee shirts for completing 10, 50 and 100 runs.

Such has been the popularity of Parkruns that it has led to the development of “Parkrun tourism” with runners now trying to take part in as many locations as possible. With 13 countries now participating, there is plenty of exploring to be done.

Parkrun and Nordic Walking

Some Nordic Walkers have been making the most of the Parkrun opportunities for a while, but in July, Chrissie Wellington, Head of Participation for parkrun , four times Ironman World Champion, and recent Nordic Walking convert officially teamed up with the British Nordic Walking Association to encourage more Nordic Walkers to participate in Parkruns. Coming to one of these events is is a great way of measuring your performance, as well as meeting other Nordic Walkers. Over the course of just a few weeks, you should see an improvement in your PB.

Nordic Walking East Anglia has plans to take part in Parkruns at both Milton Country Park in Cambridge and Nowton Park in Bury St Edmunds, so do keep an eye out for details on our upcoming walks page and come and join Mary and Katharine and the 1.1 million members of the UK Parkrun family.

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