Spoiler alert: It is impossible to complete every parkrun in the world.
Yes, that’s correct. With more than 1,650 events around the world, and new events starting weekend, with just one parkrunday per week there will always be free, weekly, timed 5ks out there you will never have the chance to walk, jog or run.
But wait! Before you become so disillusioned by that horrifying realisation that you consider putting your parkrun barcode in the bin, fear not: This is simply a reason to get creative!
parkrun Tourists love nothing more than finding an angle for new challenges, whether that be completing 100 different events, all the letters of the alphabet, or even stopwatch bingo.
In the latest instalment of the parkrun Tourism Series, we move the needle a few degrees to direct your attention towards a challenge that has a particular magnetism – The Compass Club. Yep you guessed it, parkruns beginning with North, East, South and West!
Northampton parkrun - Northamptonshire
Ironically the trip North for the first stop of our four points of the compass actually starts in the Midlands!
Northampton parkrun is more than 300 parkruns old, having launched in May 2012, and the two-lapper on tarmac paths takes place on the Racecourse in central Northampton.
Northampton parkrun also has a connection to parkrun royalty! First up, their course record of 14:52 is held by parkrun World Record holder, Andy Baddeley.
But perhaps even more impressively though, Northampton is also the home parkrun of 85-year-old Bob Emmerson, who in 2017 became the oldest person ever at that time to join the parkrun 250 Club!
Northwich parkrun – Cheshire
Our second ‘North’ parkrun does indeed takes us north this time, to the town of Northwich in Cheshire.
During Roman times, Northwich was known as Condate, but you don’t need to be an Emperor or a gladiator to duel with this 5k!
The Northwich parkrun course takes place in the town’s Carey Park, and the event is less than a year old. The route explores the hidden Northwich Woodland, whilst following the River Weaver.
The course is not the flattest, and so far only two women have gone under 20 minutes, and only one man has dipped under 17:00.
Eastbourne parkrun – East Sussex
As the childhood saying goes, “Never Eat Shredded Wheat” which means our second stop takes us clockwise from North to East, for the second entry in the Compass Club.
First up we navigate our way to Eastbourne parkrun in the south of England. The seaside town of Eastbourne has bucket loads to do and see, and is famous for, among others, the iconic chalk headlands at Beachy Head.
Whilst the parkrun is slightly less dramatic, it is no less enjoyable. Staged in Shinewater Park every Saturday, the beautifully scenic course offers views of the lake as you make your way towards the finish funnel (and cafe!).
Eastbourne is also the home of music band Toploader, and if you manage to bag yourself that new parkrun PB you’ll be Dancing in the Moonlight!
Eastville parkrun – Bristol
Next up, it’s Eastville parkrun in Bristol, situated in the suburbs to the north of the city centre, and fast approaching their first birthday celebrations.
More than 5,000 people have completed the course so far, and every one of them has been treated to an eye-catching course within Eastville Park.
Just like it’s nearby neighbour, Ashton Court parkrun, Easville is also a bit of a rollercoaster ride, with around 200 feet of elevation in total. However with an average of 379 parkrunners per week, you will be assured of some company along your 5k.
South Shields parkrun – Tyne and Wear
For our South stop, we head North! In the north east of England you can find the coastal town of South Shields, and more specifically South Shields parkrun.
South Shields parkrun has welcomed some illustrious parkrunners, including Team GB Olympian Aly Dixon, and European and Commonwealth Games 1500m finalist Sarah McDonald who holds the female course record of 17:23.
This spectacular parkrun begins on the seafront promenade before crossing grass to pick up the coastal path. The cliff top 5k offers glorious views out towards the sea and traces the route of the final mile of the Great North Run.
Southwark parkrun – London
Next up on the southern leg of the Compass Club is a trip to London, where we find Southwark parkrun.
As one of the most central parkruns in the England’s capital and well connected with public transport, Southwark parkrun is always hugely popular with parkrun tourists – particularly in April when they hold a special London Marathon-themed event the day before the world famous race.
Alas the parkrun is less arduous than pounding the streets for 26.2 miles, and this pretty urban park offers a course that is well worth a visit.
The route is three-laps of the park on smooth tarmac paths, making it suitable all-year-round for those who are not a fan of splashing in the mud.
The course is also flat and fast, meaning your souvenir from the capital might just be a shiny new personal best time!
Westmill parkrun – Hertfordshire
Our final destination, and the only parkrun eligible for the West leg of the Compass Club (at the time of writing!) takes us to the town of Ware in Hertfordshire.
Westmill parkrun has been a part of the parkrun family since July 2017, and in that time their course has been completed more than 4,000 times.
The Westmill parkrun course is a two-lapper, meeting at Three Lakes Campsite. Your 5k heads downhill for a short stretch crossing a field field and onto the edge of Millenium Lake, before heading back uphill again.
Post-parkrun coffee is served at the Three Lakes Restaurant, where you can enjoy a cup of something hot, soak your new Compass Club member status, and plan your next tourist adventure!
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One reason parkrun has grown so quickly is that it’s such a simple concept. Register once, for free, and turn up at one of more than 1,500 parks and open spaces around the world on a Saturday morning. But if you listen carefully, it might seem like there’s a secret code or language being…