Uncategorized - 5th September 2017

parkrun tourism takes hold in the US


We’ve gotten used to the occasional guest appearance – or, at some venues, the seasonal invasion – of the parkrunners from afar: the British Isles, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, and other places. parkrun tourism is one of those reminders that each tightly-knit parkrun community is connected to a greater whole. Over the past months, for example, many of us had a chance to meet Jan and Jeff Bartlett, from New South Wales, Australia, in their quest to run every parkrun venue in the US (slightly thrown off course while we were busy starting new events). Overseas parkrun tourist numbers usually surge during the summer holidays, especially at popular destinations like Clermont Waterfront, near Orlando’s famed theme parks, and it was no different this year, but a new trend became distinctly noticeable this summer: it’s now also the US parkrun community that is doing the touring.


Many early US parkrunners’ first exposure to parkrun took place in another country. A few pioneers had already figured out how to slip a run into their travel itineraries. We’ve covered these stories before, for example, Paul Durbin’s epic time warping double or Tim Gallagher’s confession. Perhaps reflecting the rapid growth of our domestic parkrun community, reports of US parkrunners appearing at events overseas have soared. Whether on business or leisure, chances are there’s a parkrun near your travel destination, making extending your stay through Saturday worthwhile. Frances Post, for example, along with her 43 runs at Clermont Waterfront, has an enviable list of events under the belt, including runs in Denmark, Italy, Ireland, Scotland, France and Canada. Your newsletter editor managed to fit a parkrun in Elk, Poland, as well as in Divonne, France, over this summer.


However, it is the opportunity for domestic parkrun tourism that has most dramatically increased as parkrun’s footprint in the US grows. These opportunities are being seized by the community: a corridor of five venues in the DC-Maryland-Virginia area has led to a steady flow of visitors across parkruns from Richmond to Baltimore, attending the inaugurals and subsequent events, building bonds of camaraderie across teams. Joyce Adams, volunteer coordinator at Roosevelt Island, DC, is in a category of her own, having volunteered at four different venues in the area. But while most of the 12 current parkruns in this country are not in close proximity to other venues, committed athletes are still going the distance, driving hours or flying to other events. Tim Keer, of Livonia, MI, for example, recently spent a weekend in Chicago, and thought nothing of driving an extra 90 minutes to Ottawa, Il, home of Heritage Harbor parkrun. The successful start of parkrun Canada in the past year created many more running options. In New York or Washington States, your nearest “local” is likely to be just across the border.


The handy parkrun “tourist tool” was devised to help you find the nearest parkrun to you, wherever you find yourself, and to visually tick down the one’s you’ve already done. There’s even a hidden link in the parkrun US website to keep track of parkrunners who have done the most events in the US.


parkrun aims to be present in any community that wants a free, weekly 5 km event, so the options for parkrunning while visiting the US will steadily increase in the coming months and years, and the lengths you will have to go will be cut dramatically from, for example, the 1081 mi separating Laredo, Tx from the nearest parkrun. Every parkrun is unique in terms of the landscape and course, but you will find the same warm welcome wherever you choose to run.

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