While parkrun is steadily growing across the globe, Saturday 12 August 2023 will mark the second anniversary of parkrun Austria. To celebrate this occasion, we take a look back at how much parkrun Austria has achieved in just two years.
Austria is a relatively small, mountainous and extremely picturesque country located in Central Europe with a population of nine million. At the same time, Austria is currently one of the smallest and youngest countries in the parkrun family with three events in the main cities of Vienna, Linz and Salzburg.
The history of parkrun in Austria started before the COVID pandemic in 2019. As the popularity of parkrun continued to grow and there was an increase of enquiries about launching events in different European countries, we were looking for opportunities to offer parkrun to local communities in many parts of Europe.
With well established parkrun events in neighbouring countries such as Germany, Austria (where the official language is German) seemed to be a place where we could easily open parkrun events.
The first parkrun event in Austria was scheduled to launch in Graz in March 2020, which unfortunately had to be cancelled due to the introduced lockdown. Nevertheless, the prospect teams in Austria continued working on their events.
Once we were allowed to operate again, the first events were ready to start in Salzburg in August 2021 and Vienna in October that year. The first two events were followed by the start of the third one in Linz in April 2022.
Wolfgang Mayr and Lukas Gärtner, the event directors of Donaupark parkrun in Vienna recall: “We started in October 2021, even though the first months were heavily influenced by COVID-19 lockdowns, we managed to grow successfully. The most important task was to build a very active volunteer team, to make the event continuous and sustainable.”
Despite the global pandemic and the fact that parkrun was a new initiative in Austria, the three events have continued to grow and spread the true parkrun spirit and welcoming atmosphere. Today, each of them gather around 50 participants every Saturday and the number is increasing.
The Austrian events also offer the same level of inclusivity and friendliness as any other parkrun event around the world.
Uli Koller, event director of Donauradweg parkrun in Linz said: “A colourful and consistent community of participants has formed around our local parkrun. From time to time, tourists join us and make the event something even more special. It’s nice to see that it doesn’t matter what time you finish, but that everyone is welcome. The mutual support and motivation doesn’t stop at the end of parkrun, but continues during the week. parkrun definitely brings people together and reflects the diversity of our city.”
Although parkrun Austria is still in its early stages, we expect more events to appear on the map. We are currently working with a new team in the city of Graz, where the fourth parkrun event is expected to launch this year.
If you ever happen to visit Austria, we highly recommend coming along to one of the existing events to meet the wonderful Austrian parkrun community and make new friends in this part of the world.
Happy birthday parkrun Austria!
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