News - 9th February 2023

How does parkrun actually work?


You’ve heard of parkrun and are thinking of coming along, but you’re not quite sure how it works…


We’ve put together this handy guide taking you through parkrun step-by-step!


1. Signing up


It’s completely free to register and you only need to sign-up once. Simply complete this form and get your barcode. Your barcode is valid at every parkrun in the world.


If you have already registered in the past, but you’ve lost or forgotten your login details, please don’t re-register – you can retrieve your login details here.


Find your nearest event by searching our map. You can enter your postcode, name of town or name of event.


Each event website details important information, such as where the event takes place and the location of the start. You can also find out what the course is like.




2. On the day


You’ve signed up, got your barcode and have picked your parkrun of choice. Good work!


There is no mandatory dress code at parkrun, you can wear whatever you feel most comfortable in – that could be comfy pair of jogging bottoms, or lycra, or a pair of chinos. Anything that you feel comfortable walking, jogging or running 5k in.


On the day, aim to arrive 15-20 minutes before the start. parkruns start at 9:00am in England & Wales, and at 9:30am in Scotland & Northern Ireland.


Most parkruns have somewhere you can leave your belongings, but it’s always best to just bring the essentials and check with your local event if you have any specific questions.


You don’t have to sign-in or register on the day and you won’t need to do anything with your barcode until you’ve finished.




3. Before your parkrun


Around 10-15 minutes before parkrun starts, the majority of parkruns will then have a first-timers briefing.


This welcome briefing is specifically for anyone who is new to the event and gives you the opportunity to ask any questions.


The course will also be explained to you and you’ll get to meet other people taking part for the first time.




We know some people are more confident than others when it comes to crowds and meeting new people, so remember there’s no pressure at all to talk to anyone!


You are more than welcome to listen to music or do your own thing. Whatever makes you comfortable.


Then, the main briefing will take place. This is carried out by the Run Director, who will usually be wearing a black and white hi-vis vest, and generally takes place near the start of your parkrun.





Even if you’ve been before, it’s important to be quiet and listen to the briefing so you don’t miss any announcements or course changes, as well as the chance to celebrate milestones.


Then it’s time to start. The Run Director will usually count down from three, and then you’re off! It’s at this point that the timing starts.





4. During your parkrun


As you make your way around the course, please don’t worry about being too slow or not being fit enough.


It’s absolutely fine to stop, only complete some of the course, walk-run, or walk the entire way – at parkrun there is no time limit.


Literally, thousands of people walk every week: In 2019, around the world 301,133 different people walked at parkrun. Every event has a volunteer Tail Walker, meaning nobody finishes last.




You also don’t need to memorise the course or carry a map! parkrun courses are signposted and there will be marshals along the route offering you encouragement and support.


There will likely be other people out using the park, such as dog walkers, so please do be mindful and accommodating we do share our wonderful open spaces with others during parkrun.


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5. When you finish


As you reach the end of your parkrun you’ll see the finish line, or what we call the finish funnel. You’ve made it!


This is the point where your parkrun finishes and volunteers will record your time as you cross the line.




Once you’re in the finish funnel, it’s important that you stay in order and take a finish token. This is just a small plastic tag that has a number on – that’s your finish position.


You then simply take your finish token and your own paper barcode or wristband to the Barcode Scanners.


They’ll be wearing hi-vis and they will scan your barcode first, give it back to you, and then scan your finish token, which they will keep so it can be re-used again next week – please don’t take the tokens home as a souvenir!




For various safety and operational reasons, we do not accept barcodes on mobile phones, so if you’ve forgotten your barcode, just give your token back to the Barcode Scanners. This does mean you won’t receive a time, but you’re still welcome to take part.


Sometimes there’s a queue to be scanned, but don’t panic, it doesn’t matter if you don’t get scanned immediately as all results are processed together once everyone has finished.




6. After parkrun


Once you’ve had your barcode and token scanned, and handed back your token, you are free to dash off and celebrate how you wish.


Most parkruns will have a cafe or meeting point close by where many people will gather for a chat and a drink and it’s a great way to meet and chat with fellow parkrunners over a coffee.


The results are processed by the volunteer team and you’ll receive an email or text message confirming your time, position and other useful stats. It can sometimes take a while for this to happen, so don’t panic if you haven’t received within 48 hours.


Most importantly, make sure you enjoy and celebrate your parkrun! You got yourself out of bed on a Saturday morning and completed 5k. That’s awesome! #loveparkrun


Find your nearest parkrun here.

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