As we prepare to celebrate the 10th anniversary of parkrun in Australia next month, it seems hard to believe that we have developed from a kitchen table running event in one location on the Gold Coast to a professional, highly respected public health initiative that’s enjoyed by 700,000 people in 400 communities across the country. And those numbers are growing every week.
In that time we have delivered a staggering 76,636 parkrun events, with almost 10 million walkers, joggers and runners collecting a finish token and 110,000 high-vis heroes slipping into a volunteer bib. Someone in Australia registers with parkrun every eight minutes and 60,000 of our participants identified themselves as physically inactive when they first signed up.
It really is incredible how such a simple concept has captured the hearts and imagination of people from all corners of society, especially those who had no previous experience of organised physical activity and volunteering.
parkrun Australia is fast becoming one of the country’s largest and most important health and social interventions and, as we grow, so too do our costs. Keeping parkrun free at the point of participation does come at a cost, and keeping those events safe and inclusive for our walkers, runners and volunteers does have financial implications.
Thankfully, with the support of the Australian parkrun community, we now have the opportunity to safeguard parkrun for future generations.
Over the past 10 years one of the most common questions I’ve been asked from parkrunners around Australia is quite simply ‘how can I help to support parkrun’s mission?’. This question was at the forefront of our minds during the COVID-19 shutdown, during which we spent considerable time planning for the ongoing sustainability of parkrun in Australia and understanding how the parkrun community could play a role.
parkrunners in Australia have been requesting parkrun merchandise for many years and therefore we identified the development of an Amazon-style shop as a priority. Our aim was to create an all-in-one online shop with products hosted and distributed right here in Australia, to ensure that shipping costs are kept to a minimum, sizing is consistent and the product range is consistent with the seasonal needs of Aussie parkrunners. As you will see when visiting the shop, our first release of new merchandise includes parkrun branded caps, visors and high-performance socks, all designed right here in Australia.
The social restrictions and uncertainty caused by COVID-19 has reinforced how critical it is for all human beings to have the opportunity to be outside, active and social. parkrun has a major role in positively impacting people and communities as we emerge from the pandemic and it is vital we preserve it for the hundreds of thousands of people who will need parkrun in the future. parkrun has earned a position in society where it can influence health and happiness and we cannot afford to lose that.
parkrun has always been committed to growing sustainably while protecting our core principles of free, for everyone, forever. The parkrun Australia online shop provides another way for every parkrunner to help support that mission and we thank you for your support.
Strategic Director, Asia Pacific
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