Walking, jogging or running all the events in each different parkrun territory has become a familiar challenge to dedicated parkrunners. It gives people a reason to travel, discover new places and meet new friends, all in the pursuit of parkrun.
Here in the Nordics, we look at the parkrunners who hold the records for the most parkruns completed in each country…
First up we have the fascinating tale of Ralph Behrens, who is the only person who has completed all eight parkruns in Denmark……despite living in Germany!
He takes up the story:.
“My first contact to parkrun was in 2013 when we were in Stellenbosch, South Africa for a running event. My friend Dave from New Zealand announced that tomorrow morning at 8am there will be a parkrun (Root 44). I replied: “parkrun – what’s that, never heard of that before…..and 8am is much too early, no way!”
Of course, I went along. Later that day I met a runner called Roderick Hoffman who told me more about parkrun, the challenges, clubs, parkrun tourists and more… Roderick is a parkrun enthusiast collected up to now more than 250 different parkruns all over the world.
It took me another 3 years to complete my first parkrun in Copenhagen, Denmark on 17th September 2016. I was representing Hamburg Marathon at the Copenhagen Half marathon Expo and the parkrun Fælledparken was close by.
I started to look for parkruns to every place I travelled: there was an Expo for Aarhus Halfmarathon so I did Brabrand parkrun there. Then we were going for a holiday to Jylland in Denmark so on the way I passed by Esbjerg parkrun to run there and then travelled (a five hour round trip!) up north to run Nibe parkrun.
Fast forward to the announcement about the inaugural event in Nordre Fælled, Randers, and of course I had to go to this! As I had visited Amager Fælled and Vejen in between, this new event was the only one in Denmark I was missing. I was very welcome in Randers and enjoyed the coffee and the talk after parkrun!”
Ralph has also been involved in helping to set up parkrun in Germany, which is rapidly growing since the first event in Hannover Georgengarten in December 2017, where he volunteered as the Tail Walker.
He’s been present at many of the inaugural events in Germany and is looking forward to the first parkrun in Dresden this coming Saturday and then hopefully in January 2019 in Hamburg – finally a local event!
We should also credit the following parkrunners who have run 7 of the 8 Danish events (so not including the new event at Nordre Faelled, Randers), namely: Arne Jakobsen, Michael Hartmann, Troels Wenedlblo, Jim Webb, Tage Festersen, Hanne Kruse Olsen, Katrine Louise Svane, Henrik Poulsen, Jonathan Sydenham, Ian Shorthouse and Paul Freyne.
In Finland, the proud owner of the title is Jyri Hänninen, who is a regular at Tampere parkrun. He first ran at Tampere parkrun last winter, and since then he hasn’t looked back! Jyri writes:
“The more I have learnt about parkrun, the more the important it is to me. I ran my first parkrun on the 7th Tampere parkrun. I thought, that I could run parkrun once or twice a month.
Thanks to parkrun tourists and my friend, who ran a couple of parkruns in South Africa I began to understand more about parkrun. I started to dream, that perhaps I could run parkrun somewhere else than Tampere, for example in Stockholm, Sweden.”
“Taking part in parkrun each week became a matter of honour. Once it seemed, that Tampere parkrun might have to cancel due to a lack of volunteers. At first, I thought that I can’t help, because I’m hard of hearing. Even so, I asked if I could be a volunteer because cancelling Tampere parkrun happening felt much worse. Everything went fine.
Since November 25th 2017 I have run 30 parkruns and volunteered 4 times. I have told other people that everybody can participate parkrun. Nobody is too slow. I think that parkrun is a kind of lifestyle for me nowadays.
We asked Jyri which his favourite event was in Finland. Unsurprisingly it was hard to say!
“Perhaps it is Tampere parkrun, because that is my home parkrun and I have run it so many times in many different conditions. All three parkruns in Finland are attractive in their own way.
Tampere parkrun has run next to lake Pyhäjärvi, Tokoinranta parkrun next to sea gulf Töölönlahti and Vääksyn kanava parkrun canal Vääksy. So water is an important element on every route.
The thing I like very much is that every parkrun has its own special landmark. For example manor Hatanpään kartano and arboretum in Tampere, Finlandia talo hall in Tokoinranta and canal Vääksy in Vääksyn kanava.
I think that the nicest post parkrun café is Sisustuskahvila Kardemumma in Vääksyn kanava parkrun. The nice little house with a great atmosphere.”
In Sweden, amazing veteran parkrunner Björn Suneson has now completed 6 of the country’s 7 events (along with Caroline and Hugh Manning, also Haga parkrun regulars) and has plans to complete the set with a visit to Malmö Ribersborg parkrun in the near future.
Björn writes: ‘Today I bought a train ticket and booked a hotel for my visit to Malmö on December 15th. My goal is also to have the age record in all places, but that is difficult, there are better runners than me in my age category.”
(Editor’s note: Björn holds the M70-74 age graded record in Haga, Huddinge, Uppsala, Kungsängen and Skatås, but not yet in Örebro, where local runner Bo Persson holds the record with 22:13 (79.37%).
He has also recently returned from coming second in the world marathon championships for his age-group in Toronto, so his running pedigree is pretty impressive!)
When asked about his favourite parkrun, Björn says ‘I like them all, they are so different and each course has its own charm. But Haga parkrun, where I live close by, is a little special, there you can talk about a real ‘park’ run.
On the other hand I’m a little nervous running at Haga parkrun where I have been parkrunning most times because I know it’s difficult to beat my Personal Best there.”
Björn has also travelled to the UK to complete at the South Manchester parkrun. We look forward to celebrating his record when he achieves it on December 15th (and fingers crossed for no icy conditions on that day in Malmö!)
And finally, we come to Norway. Here the title is up for grabs! With the events in Bergen (Lovstien parkrun) and Trondheim (Festningen parkrun) only recently starting up, no-one has yet completed more than two events in Norway.
We are looking forward to announcing the first parkrunner who makes the trip around Norway to claim the crown!
Almost 1,700 communities worldwide are now home to parkrun events every Saturday and Sunday, and just like the variety of parkrun courses, parkrunners come in all different shapes and sizes, ages and experiences, coming together every week for a walk, jog or run, followed by a coffee and a chat. Whilst man’s best friends, the four-legged parkdogs…
Globally parkrun continues to grow at a rapid pace, with this year welcoming two new countries to the parkrun family, Malaysia and Germany, and more recently, reaching the 5th million person to register for parkrun. But closer to home in the Nordics, we have also reached some important milestones which show how parkrun is…