parkrun is becoming a running revolution. Not only is this once-a-week event free; there are two parkrun courses to choose from in Townsville — most unusual outside a capital city. We chatted to Riverway parkrun event co-director Rachel Lind about how you can join the movement (and start obsessively checking your email account all morning Saturday to see if you’ve beaten last week’s time).
“parkrun caters for all abilities from reformed couch potatoes to Olympians” – Rachel Lind
What’s parkrun? A group of not-for-profit, free, timed, 5km running events that started in London about 10 years ago. Since being brought to Australia in 2011 they have flourished —— there are now 68 and counting in Australia alone. The ethos is that any community that wants one can be assisted to set it up — we’re entirely volunteer-run.
How can people get involved? The premise is quite simple: before their first ever parkrun people register online at www.parkrun.com.au and are given a unique credit-card-size barcode and athlete number to print off. They only have to do this step once. They then take themselves and that barcode to their nearest parkrun and run the course. They are given a placement token with its own barcode on it when they cross the line. They then take both their own and this one to a volunteer who scans both. We take our one back, they go home and get emailed their time a few hours later when we’ve processed the results. And repeat. You can turn up to any parkrun in the world and run it. I discovered parkrun on a visit to my hometown of Aberdeen in Scotland and I run with the same barcode now that I’m back in Australia.
How fit do you need to be? parkrun caters for all abilities from reformed couch potatoes to Olympians. We have regulars who beast the course in under 20 minutes and people who walk the entire 5km in over an hour. One of our volunteer roles is a tail-runner who stays behind the last parkrunner — no one gets left behind.
Where is it? Townsville is fortunate enough to have not one but two parkruns, which is unusual outside of a capital city. And we were the first of the tropical parkruns (Cairns and Darwin have since started events). In Townsville one is at Pioneer Park, Riverway, and the other is at North Shore. Riverway celebrated its first anniversary on March 29, 2014 and is now regularly seeing 80-90 people turn up each week.
When is it? Every Saturday at 7am (be there at 6.45am for the first-timers briefing). It’s on rain or shine.
How much is it? Nada. Free. Gratis. We only ask that people volunteer at least three times a year in order to keep the event going.
What happens if people forget their barcode? Unfortunately as our team is all volunteer-run it would take an immense amount of time to enter times manually if everyone did this, so no barcode = no time! The moral is: don’t forget your barcode!
Big thanks to everyone at parkrun riverway! The below photos are from the 10th May 2014. You can also view the photos on our facebook page.