parkrun Germany has reached its fifth anniversary, and with 49 new locations and 4,512 events, there is a lot to celebrate!
With all 169,359 finishes over the last five years, we have walked and ran 846,795k in Germany – the equivalent of travelling around the world over 21 times.
4,630 volunteers have supported parkrun since the start in Germany, creating a total of 48,833 volunteering stints.
parkrun Germany officially joined the worldwide parkrun family on 2 December 2017 when the first three parkruns started simultaneously in Hanover, Leipzig and Mannheim. Shortly after the initial openings, new parkrun teams followed the pioneers, and by the end of the year the number of locations had grown to 11. At the time, this made Germany the record holder for the number of events launched within the first year.
Great news: we are slowing down
So after just one year, Germany was the fastest growing country in parkrun history. On average, 10 new locations have been opened every year so far. We’re proud that the average parkrun time has dropped from 29:49 in the first year to 30:32.
More and more people walk the route on Saturday mornings. In 2017/2018, 453 people took more than 45 minutes for the five kilometres. In 2021/22 there were 1,807 in the same time. This shows that parkrun really is for everyone, no matter your age, ability or background, and more and more people are walking on Saturday mornings and doing something for their physical and mental health.
Our participants are regulars
parkrunners in Germany are “repeat offenders”. This can be clearly seen in the milestone statistics: 1,249 participants have completed 25 or more parkruns. 476 managed at least double the number. 88 people have participated in 100 parkruns and five have even crossed the finish line in 250 parkruns worldwide. The oldest parkrunner in Germany is 87 years old!
4,630 volunteers have supported parkrun since the start in Germany and have volunteered a total of 48,833 times. The most popular role was that of marshal. Incidentally, Germany was the first country to use the Virtual Volunteer App exclusively for time measurement and processing of results.
Active in the pandemic
In March 2020 all German events were cancelled due to the pandemic. They remained closed until July 2021. Despite the closure of parkruns across the country, the communities stayed in touch and supported one another during this difficult time. (not) parkrun played an important role in staying active. Between March 2020 and July 2021, more than 23,000 (not)parkruns were recorded. Interest in establishing new parkrun locations also remained high.
parkrunners in Germany love to party. We are happy to take the opportunity to dress up for carnival or Halloween. For example, on the Day of German Unity, people like to get active in the national colours and on St. Patrick´s Day the field is dominated by green at many locations.
Thanks to the tremendous efforts of the event teams and ambassadors, we have grown to nearly 50 events and over 30,000 registered parkrunners. We have an ambitious plan and want to keep growing. We look forward to launching new events in Germany.
Looking into the future and reflecting on the past
Birthdays are the time to celebrate. But also the time to look back. The event directors from our very first parkruns told us how it all began and what parkrun means to them:
David Sweeney, ED, Neckarau parkrun, Mannheim
“In early July 2017, while on vacation with my wife Michelle, I spoke to her about joining a running group at home. Since I am self-employed and always have to work long hours, this is difficult. Michelle said why don’t you start a parkrun? I asked what is parkrun? I had never heard of it. She explained the principle to me and while I was still on the beach I took my mobile phone, searched for “parkrun” and wrote a message that I live in Germany and would like to start a parkrun.
“The very next day I got an answer and gradually I learned what it takes to start a parkrun location. Through a chat group we got to know other people from all over Germany who also wanted to set up parkruns. We prepared everything, drummed up other interested parties in Mannheim, talked to the forestry authority and the council. Finally, in September, a UK parkrun delegation joined us, including founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt. We discussed our route and the general conditions. The next day we got the feedback that our application was successful and we could get started.
“I was very proud to have been involved in founding the first Neckarau parkrun. When I look back on the five years of parkrun in Mannheim, I can hardly imagine life without parkrun. Michelle and I are not from Germany (England and Ireland). Before parkrun, we didn’t know many people here. Today we feel part of a great community and a great city. We’ve made so many new friends, and when people tell me parkrun has changed their lives, it makes me so happy. It’s really amazing how much joy we bring to people just by walking, jogging, running or volunteering in the park and having breakfast with friends afterwards.”
Dirk Grosse, ED, Georgengarten parkrun, Hannover
“A running club on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. will not be a success in Germany,” I thought to myself when I found out about the start time of parkrun. That was over five years ago now. The numbers from parkrun Germany refute my first thoughts. When parkrun started in Hanover, I expected 20 to 25 participants on Saturday mornings. Again, I was wrong – because on average 72 parkrunners now run, and walk every Saturday. In total, more than 1,900 people covered more than 67,000k in the Georgengarten.
“But much more important than all the numbers, times and statistics is the community that the Georgengarten parkrun has created. I have met a lot of lovely people over the past five years that I probably would never have met if it was not for parkrun. Friendships, partnerships and relationships were formed. parkrunners are just nice people who help each other – also outside of parkrun. Because Georgengarten parkrun would not be possible without the community standing behind it and taking care of the event.
“I am looking forward to the next five years of Georgengarten parkrun with a continuously growing community in Hanover, many parkrun tourists, at least 200 locations in Germany and many milestones.”
Jakob Gasse, ED, Küchenholz parkrun, Leipzig
“Our last five years of parkrun can be easily divided into two eras: before and after covid. That is because Saxony had pretty strict regulations and it was too hard to find elaborate solutions to avoid cancellations. Before March 2020 we had an amazing two and a half years full of joy, walkers, runners, volunteers and visitors, a beautiful route and a slowly but steadily growing community without a single missed Saturday. Since March 2022 we are working to get back there. parkrun has given us and the city another community meeting place that nobody would want to miss.”
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