News - 20th December 2016

Murphy’s the name, parkrun’s my game


Hello – my name’s Rory Murphy, recently arrived on these shores from Ireland via 16 years in the UK.


I would hazard a guess I’ve been involved in parkrun longer than anyone else in the US – I ran my first event back in 2009.


Back then there were only 11 events and none outside of England and Scotland. There were no barcodes or scannable finish tokens – when you finished you got a metal disc with your finish position that you took over to a person with a laptop, you gave them your name and they searched it manually on the database to enter you in. If you had a common name (not an issue for me!) you had a special code word to identify yourself. All a far cry from today’s global setup!


Like many people in parkrun I came to running late, primarily as a means to keep healthy and avoid piling the pounds on. I was advised to try it by a running group at work as means to help training towards my first 10k and half marathon. I ran my first one at Richmond park on April 4th 200… and the rest is history!


Since then I progressed to volunteering at my local event (Bedfont Lakes), becoming a Run Director, a core team member, and then taking over as co-Event Director at Bedfont in late 2012 – a role I held (and loved) for 4 years. In 2014 I became a UK parkrun Ambassador – charged with supporting existing events, taking some of the load of parkrun HQ and (crucially) helping activate new events by guiding the teams through the process, from early days (course choice, route design, core team setup) all the way to a test event and the inaugural.


Things change though – and this year I was offered an opportunity to move over Stateside with my job; an opportunity I couldn’t turn down! My last event at Bedfont was truly special – a massive attendance record, friends from all over parkrun turning up as a surprise, and me being lost for words and coming close to losing it as I tried to say thank you and goodbye.


For all that I have left behind me though, there’s a new parkrunworld ahead. As luck would have it I moved to an area where there are existing parkruns in place and where parkrun USA is focused on growing plenty more new ones. I’ve already been blown away by the parkrun passion of the people involved in the events I’ve attended and am working on starting my own event up in Baltimore (if you’re interested in helping, get in touch at I’m very encouraged by the great work done by parkrun USA and am convinced that parkrun is just going to grow and grow in this country.


So, what role will I play? So far I’ve been described as an “unofficial ambassador” a “missionary” and a “parkrun evangelizer”. I think they’re all fair descriptors.


I want to help support the growth of parkrun USA.


I want to advise new events on how to get going.


I want to share what I’ve learned over the years with the existing teams


I want to spread the word about how great parkrun is


I want to see parkrun spread from city to city, state to state, across the US.


12 years ago nobody lining up in Bushy park would have believed you if you told them that this week you’d have 3 million registrants, 1000 events and over 130,000 runners. In 5 years time I think we’ll see a similar level of exponential growth in the US from where we are now, and I’d like to play a part in making that happen!



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