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News - 8th October 2021

Accepting parkrunner barcodes on mobile devices


A key principle of parkrun event delivery is to ensure everything we do is simple, scalable, and sustainable.


In 2009, in order to identify finishers more accurately and efficiently, we introduced the personal barcode system. Since then we have recorded over 60 million instances of participation around the world, and up to this point the system has worked incredibly well.


Currently we only accept printed barcodes, either in the form of paper print-outs, official wristbands or official plastic tags/cards, and this remains a global operating principle that all event teams must adhere to.


There are two reasons we insist on this:


  • Presenting a barcode from a mobile device is, on average, slower and more complex than doing so from a printed equivalent. This may lead to a significant slowing of the scanning process, to a point where events could not operate smoothly or safely. For example, adding 10 seconds per finisher to a 500-person event equates to another 83 minutes of scanning time.
  • Printed barcodes display the emergency contact details of the participant and, across the parkrun world, are used to contact the friends and family of  individuals who may be experiencing a serious medical issue.


To the many thousands of parkrun volunteers around the world who enforce this principle every weekend: thank you. Your commitment to keeping parkrun simple is hugely appreciated. But we know you are being asked more frequently why we can’t accept barcodes on mobile devices. We’re hearing from you that this policy is being increasingly challenged, and, with all events now using the Virtual Volunteer app, becoming harder to justify.


We therefore want you to know that we are exploring options to address this issue as soon as possible.


In the meantime, we’d like to once again thank volunteers around the world for insisting on printed barcodes at the point of scanning, and thank the wider parkrun community for their continued patience and support.




Tom Williams

parkrun Global Chief Operating Officer

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