The parkrun community is made up of more than three million women, men, girls and boys of all ages and backgrounds, with more than 1,650 events taking place across 20 countries worldwide every week.
The numbers are huge and continue to grow by the tens of thousands each week, but there are certain characters amongst the parkrun family who you might recognise at your weekly 5k more than most.
The question is, which one are you?
1. The Stats-Guru
Ever wondered what your parkrun p=index is? Or the average latitude and longitude of all your parkruns? Psssh, too easy!
Forget super computers, the parkrun Stats-Gurus can list the number of people to have completed 71 parkruns in Australia quicker than you can spell Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE.
These wizards don’t even use Microsoft Excel, because they’ve created their own bespoke software to crunch their complex parkrun-tracking algorithms.
Percentage growth, the number of parkruns completed on the second Saturday of the fourth month in the rain, - you name it – none of these are challenges are too great for the human calculators of parkrun.
2. The Tourist
Warning: parkrun Tourists live among us!
Tourists communicate through secret handshakes, knowing glances and underground networks, meeting covertly under the cover of darkness to share the latest intel on upcoming inaugural parkruns in Siberia or southern Africa.
The Tourist can reel-off their top 10 NENDY (or “nearest event not done yet” for the rest of us) at the drop of a hat, recite the menu from the cafe they visited after parkrun in Poland three years ago, and is on first name terms with Event Directors across the globe.
Every parkrun Tourist has a spreadsheet saved on their desktop, meticulously planning and mapping out the next 27 years of parkrunning. LonDone (all parkruns inside the M25)? Cowell Club (100 different events)? The Alphabet? No challenge is too great for the Tourist!
3. The PB-streaker
No, not that kind of streaking! We’re talking about consecutive PBs over a number of weeks.
Many parkrunners experience a similar journey when they make their early steps in the parkrun world…
You nervously attended your first parkrun fearing you would finish last and everyone would be gone by the time you finally finished, but you immediately realised you had nothing to worry about, crossing the finish line in a glow of triumph!
Then you came back the next week and walked, jogged or ran a few seconds quicker. And then the next week. And the next week. And the, well, you see where this is going…
It can sometimes be months until the PB-streaker’s run comes grinding to a halt, and the harsh reality of plateaued parkrunning sets in. But don’t worry, that only makes parkrun PBs taste even sweeter!
4. The Milestone Monster
It doesn’t matter if there’s a tornado, heatwave, blizzard or impending apocalypse, the Milestone Monster IS getting their barcode scanned, and will not be deterred on their quest for the next milestone!
They have mastered all the ways of accumulating the numbers in the quickest way possible, from New Year’s Day doubles, pre-event setup, pacing, or even the running and barcode scanning combo.
Weddings, holidays and Christmas are planned around proximity to parkruns, and come milestone day, expect to see bunting, balloons, and creations that Mary Berry would be proud of. Did I mention it’s my 250th today?
The phrase “Saturday morning lie in” does not exist in the vocabulary of the Milestone Monster.
5. The parkdog
The parkdogs may also go by the name parkrun pooches, barkdogs (the list is endless), but we’re talking about our furry four-legged parkrunners.
They are mostly here for the treats and the cuddles, but they love nothing more than chasing birds, weeing in bushes, having a good sniff, and of course, completing their weekly 5k.
Often slowed down by their humans who for some strange reason choose to use two legs rather than four, parkdogs love parkrun and we love them too – especially when they are kept on a short lead and listen carefully to the pre-run briefing.
They are the most selfless of parkrunners, knowing they won’t receive a token, time or t-shirt for their efforts. But aren’t they good boys!
6. The Hi-Vis A-Lister
Volunteering superstars can be found throughout the parkrun universe, with almost 15,000 parkrun volunteers every week in the UK alone. But the Hi-Vis A-Listers are icons of their local community!
The Hi-Vis A-Lister is mobbed for selfies more than any Hollywood actor, yet they know every parkrunner by first name, have volunteered in every single possible role more times than anyone can remember, and invariably have part of the course named after them.
They prosper in sub-zero temperatures, thrive in torrential rain, and a “well done” from them means more than the highest of honours, and is officially priceless. Hi-Vis A-Listers, we salute you!
7. The Buggy Runner
Without doubt the toughest cookies on our list, for the Buggy Runner, making it to parkrun has involved military precision, waking up at 05:00 hours following weeks of meticulous planning.
Buggy Runners are highly proficient in the art of pushing their sons and daughters up muddy hills, battling the elements whilst entertaining their young ones, all in deepest, darkest November.
You think walking, jogging or running your weekly 5k is tough? For the Buggy Runner, they eat parkrun for breakfast. Well actually they probably haven’t had time for breakfast…
8. The Social Butterfly
Our final parkrunners cannot be pinned down, they float elegantly amongst parkrunners across the UK.
They dabble in tourism, they volunteer regularly, they are partial to crunching the numbers, they’ve been known to PB and push a buggy every now and then. And of course, they’re proud owners of a milestone t-shirt or two.
For the social butterfly, Saturday mornings are the time they spread their wings, mingle and flourish, and if they’ve really networked, they might even get the coveted role of token sorting over coffee in the cafe!
The truth is, these are just a selection of the amazing and diverse groups of people around the world who call themselves parkrunners.
More than 150,000 people walk, jog, run and volunteer at parkrun in the UK every week. Whether you love your stats, collecting tourist stops, PBs or parkrunning with your pooch, we would love to see you at parkrun soon.
Remember, everyone is welcome at parkrun – nobody finishes last. Find your nearest parkrun here.
Knowsley parkrun takes place in Whiston, Liverpool every Saturday morning, and has been part of the parkrun family since December 2016. Run Director David Dodd takes us on a tour of his home event… Our parkrun was established in December 2016 by a group of people that all ran for Knowsley Harriers. We have Event Director Chris…
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