News - 4th October 2017
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Building our American parkrun family

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parkrun Global’s Chief Operating Officer (what a great job to have!), Tom Williams, visited the US in the last week of September. Tom met with the parkrun US team, with potential supporters, with new prospective parkrun teams, and ended his visit, after running his 222nd run at Roosevelt Island, with a happy gathering of parkrunners at the Board and Brew in College Park, MD.

 

parkrun first started in the United States in June 2012, when Livonia, Michigan parkrun was born. Fletcher’s Cove, Washington, DC, joined the parkrun family in January 2016 and, since then, the parkrun USA movement has gained exciting new momentum. With parkrun Canada also starting last summer, the number of free, weekly parkrun in North America has grown from 4 at the start of 2016 to 26 by the end of next month.

 

Following on from fortuitously finding myself at the Crissy Field parkrun inaugural back in January 2015, then returning for a meeting with Strava later that year, this was my third visit to parkrun USA. It was however my first ever trip to Boulder, and then the DC area, and what a trip it was.

 

Over the last 18 months Darrell Stanaford (Country Manager, parkrun USA) and his fellow volunteers have been working tirelessly to drive the growth of parkrun, not only in the DC area area but across the Country. And it’s certainly working. On Saturday I was fortunate enough to find myself on the start-line of Roosevelt Island parkrun, a wonderful ‘coiled out-and-back’ (great term, courtesy of Darrell) comprising of twisting-turning trail and a shaded boardwalk through the trees. As with every one of the 1,200+ parkrun events around the world, the community feel was amazing, with first-timers joining the family, tourists from across the globe, and even local 100-Club member Eduardo Lopez fresh from becoming a dad just 13 days previously. Congratulations Eduardo! It’s not only Eduardo’s family that is growing. After running at Roosevelt Island, Darrell and I stopped by Fletcher’s Cove parkrun en route to the coffee meetup for College Park parkrun, where I got to spend time with parkrun enthusiasts from across the region. With four parkruns already underway and a few more coming soon, it’s clear that there is a growing parkrun family in the DC-Baltimore area. They are helping to create healthy communities every week.

 

Our events currently take place in 17 countries around the world, with Finland coming online next weekend as number 18, but we’ve seen vastly differing levels of growth. Right now, a typical weekend sees 200,000 walk, jog, or run performances across the world, however 190,000 of those are from UK & Ireland, Australia, and South Africa. With our mission statement being “A Healthier and Happier Planet” though, the rest of the world (yes, all of it) is hugely important.

 

Our ambitions for parkrun USA are great, and when you realise that the UK currently has 655 weekly events it becomes clear the the opportunities for growth across North America are significant. But, we do need your help to make things happen, particularly around creating new events teams and launching new events. So, if you love parkrun and would like to help start a new event near you, then please drop us a line via usa@parkrun.com.

 

Thanks so much for your amazing parkrun passion,

 

Tom

 

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