News - 23rd May 2022

parkrun is community adhesive

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Dr Simon Tobin is a GP and a Health and Wellbeing Ambassador for parkrun. He tells us all about the magic that Saturday mornings bring!


“It’s the countless, tiny, interactions that take place every weekend that make parkrun so special,” Tom Williams, parkrun Chief Operating Officer told me five years ago. I see evidence of this all the time and how these brief contacts really matter.


The warmth and humour of the first timer and pre-event welcome. parkrunners valuing and thanking the volunteers. The shared words and congratulations in the finish funnel. A barcode scanner asking “how was your run?”. It’s the magic of parkrun.


A widower in his late 70s told me “parkrun can be the only human contact I have each week”. A parkrunner who moved to my town and found it hard to meet people now has a thriving social life with friends she made through volunteering. My 85-year-old Dad, widowed eight years ago, looks forward to marshalling each week and as we walk home together is noticeably more energised as he chats enthusiastically about the conversations he’s had. A regular tail-walker wanted me to know that her life has been changed by the conversations she’s had.


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For me, as an NHS GP whose parkrun is less than a mile from my surgery, these little social interactions have helped me develop and strengthen links with countless people.


It’s been wonderful for me to share time with my patients in a different context and meet as members of our community rather than as doctor and patient.


I’ve come to understand how these brief exchanges help to draw people into their communities, creating then strengthening bonds that help glue us all together. It’s made me realise that parkrun is so much more than just physical activity. parkrun is community adhesive.


Dr Simon Tobin



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