Since the very first parkrun in Bushy Park on Saturday 2 October 2004, more than 3.7 million people have had their barcodes scanned at parkrun events around the world.
For some people, parkrun is something they might do every now and then, maybe at Christmas time with family, or when catching up with an old friend for a coffee…
But for millions of others, they have well and truly caught the parkrun bug and they #loveparkrun!
Diagnosing the condition known as ‘parkrun fever’ can be tricky, so here are six ways you can tell if you’ve fallen for parkrun…
1. You book your holidays around parkrun
Forget the Maldives, Hawaii or the Carribean, your bucket-list of holiday destinations now includes Vääksyn in Finland, Missouri in the USA, and Zielona Góra in Poland. Why? Because of parkrun!
When booking hotels, you spend hours forensically analysing Google Maps to work out the most convenient accommodation for obscure parks and open spaces, and you have mastered the art of dissecting public transport routes and timetables in 14 different languages.
With parkrun currently taking place across 21 countries worldwide in over 1,800 locations, the possibilities of parkrun tourism and challenges are endless. Wherever you choose to go, there are two rules that remain constant:
2. You have barcodes everywhere
Speaking of barcodes, you know you’ve fallen hard for parkrun when every pocket, nook and cranny is filled with barcodes.
Possibly scarred by a previous experience, or just suffering from ‘Unknown Athlete’ anxiety, you take no chances when it comes to remembering your barcode.
You cannot open a bag, glove box or drawer without a barcode popping out, and you might even have one on your wrist, your shoelaces or your wallet at all times, just in case.
Wherever your personal secret stash is located, there are four words that you live by: Don’t forget your barcode! #DFYB
3. You get up earlier on Saturdays than you do for work
From Monday to Friday, the alarm clock is your arch nemesis and the only antidote is the snooze button. You may wait until the last possible moment to crawl out of bed, savouring every last second of sleep and the comfort of the duvet… but not on Saturdays!
Lie-ins are not in your vocabulary when the weekend rolls around. On
Saturday, sorry we mean parkrunday, the prospect of a 4:30am alarm to get up and catch a train is totally normal, and you spring out of bed bursting with the enthusiasm of a toddler on Christmas Day.
Friday evenings are now parkrun-prep time as you lay out your kit with military precision, get your breakfast ready, and leave your trainers by the door with excitement and anticipation. Or better yet, you might even sleep with them on so you’re ready to go at the crack of dawn.
Where once you planned your big night out all week, now you much prefer the prospect of running up a boggy hill in the pouring rain. It’s official: Saturday morning is the new Saturday night.
4. You measure everything in parkruns
Your passion for your free, weekly, timed 5k is so great that all previously used units of measurements have gone out of the window, and now every journey or distance is calculated solely in parkruns.
During every race you enter, you will find yourself with “only a parkrun to go” and on long car journeys, the numbers on road signs are merely an opportunity for you to show off how you have mastered your five times tables.
For example, did you know that London is located only 106.8 parkruns away from Edinburgh? Or that Land’s End to John O’Groats is just 281.4 parkruns? Of course you did.
5. Your birthday is a way to improve your age grading
For so long, birthdays meant getting another year older, grey hairs and a few more wrinkles. But now you see the ageing process as a gateway to new parkrun possibilities.
Each year gives you the opportunity to improve your age grading percentage, and if that wasn’t enough, every five years you get to enter a new age category!
When it comes to parkrun age is just a (very satisfying) number.
6. You have a group chat solely for parkrun
Last but not least, it’s the group chat. Every parkrunning family or friendship group has one, and the notifications build-up in a crescendo as the weekend approaches.
Once alphabets, elevation profiles and cafes have been taken into consideration and you’ve reached a committee decision on where to parkrun, come Saturday morning the group catches fire. The fighting talk begins with bold predictions of PBs, followed by some “I’m just taking it easy today” management of expectations.
After the minute-by-minute travel updates and weather forecasts play out, things go quiet as 9:00am approaches… that is until the official results emails and texts drop later in the day, and the whole process begins again!
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