News - 11th March 2021

Breaking down barriers

gisborne inaugural

This time last year, to mark International Women’s Day 2020, parkrun countries came together in a global celebration of female participation.


Here we look at the legacy of that special day, parkrun’s ongoing commitment to breaking down barriers to participation, and some of the inspirational and heartwarming stories of parkrunning women and girls in New Zealand.




On 8 March 2020, compared to a typical Saturday, we welcomed an incredible 15,000 additional women and girls to parkrun events around the world, with almost 151,000 women and girls walking, jogging or running.


Named after International Women’s Day, the IWDparkrun also saw the biggest number of female volunteers ever recorded at parkrun with 2,000 more female volunteers than a typical Saturday, and 400 women and girls volunteering for the very first time.


However, whilst the participation numbers are encouraging, and one off celebrations such as IWDparkrun provide us with a great and valuable opportunity to shine the spotlight on our commitment to inclusivity, our work certainly doesn’t start and finish there.


We continue working hard to understand and remove many of the barriers to participation that people face, including women and girls. We’ve made changes to the delivery of our events, for example introducing First Timer Welcomes and renaming the Tail Runner role to Tail Walker, to reflect our commitment to encouraging participation by those who want to walk, and at the same time addressing the fear that some have of coming last. Our imagery and messaging has also changed to better reflect the wide range of people who take part, showcasing the incredible women and girls of all ages, abilities and backgrounds who participate in our events.


Although our celebration of International Women’s Day 2021 is a little different to last year, the feedback and stories from parkrunning women and girls across the country has been profound, insightful and inspiring.


People such as Sally Houliston who would see Anderson parkrunners while out walking in the park and after a friend had told her about parkrun,  decided that it could be a good way to get into running regularly. She is now a regular.


And 70yo Vivienne Hawken who had a brush with cancer in 2019 but during all of it, never stopped parkrunning. It helped speed up her recovery process and was her personal battle to prove she was okay. Helped by the great support from her parkrun family.




Since the pausing of parkrun more than 45,000 women and girls around the world have completed almost half a million (not)parkruns with an average finish time of 37 minutes and 32 seconds. More than half (51%) of (not)parkrunners are women. The signs are positive, with women and girls comprising 50% of the people who ran, walked or volunteered last weekend the other parkrun territories that have resumed.


As people feel increasingly comfortable coming along to parkrun, we look forward to welcoming everyone back and building on the success of previous years in making sure that parkrun truly is open to all.




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