On June 2nd, 2012, 28 runners and walkers, alongside seven volunteers, turned up at Bicentennial Park at 9 am in Livonia, Michigan, a town in the Detroit Metropolitan Area. They have turned up 243 Saturdays since, almost without interruption, and on June 3rd, 2017 they came in large numbers to celebrate the fifth anniversary of parkrun USA.
The date was celebrated across the country: in Richmond, Virginia, parkrun Founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt inaugurated parkrun USA’s 10th event: Deep Run parkrun. In Washington, DC, the Council of the District of Columbia approved a special ceremonial resolution marking the date as “parkrun day”, and signaled their intention to continue supporting weekly free health and fitness events.
For parkrun USA, with Paul Sinton-Hewitt among us, it was more like a birthday week rather than a parkrun day: on May 27th, a new all-time attendance record of 599 was broken, with Paul running with the College Park crowd with visitors from Clermont Waterfront and Mansfield parkruns, at another record-breaking event. Fletcher’s Cove hosted a Sunday picnic for Paul and the visiting crowed with, of course, a Freedom Run (an unofficial, off-Saturday, yet timed and recorded parkrun). Later in the week, at Roosevelt Island, Paul was greeted by the trusty core volunteer group, for a walk along the beautiful island and presidential memorial. Paul, parkrun USA manager Darrell Stanaford, and other volunteers in the USA team, spent the remainder of the Memorial Day week in meetings with a variety of stakeholder groups, including parks authorities, nonprofits, and health insurers.
A highlight of Paul’s visit to the US, College Park parkrun’s power duo, Colin Phillips and Andrea Zukowski, who are faculty of the University of Maryland at College Park, convened a high-level event, Think Globally, Act Locally, to introduce parkrun to a variety of key stakeholder groups, to explore ideas and opportunities for collaboration. This included leaders of nonprofits working in trail conservation, on social issues such as homelessness, academics from areas as broad as public health, physical fitness, economics, business, language sciences (that’s Colin and Andrea!), our partners from the American Cancer Society, representatives of parks and recreation authorities, as well as the City of College Park’s own mayor, Patrick Wojahn, a regular and enthusiastic parkrunner, as well as other parkrunners with important day jobs.
Paul’s visit marked an important turning point for parkrun USA: five years after our first event, parkrun is finally poised to spread across the nation as it has across the world. parkrun’s inspiring vision has been that every community in the world that wants a parkrun, a free, timed, community-led 5 km run, should have one. Paul also reminded us time and again that parkrun isn’t only – or even primarily – about the running: running brings us together as human beings, and as communities, healing minds and bodies and rebuilding the frayed fabric of our societies. Happy birthday, parkrun USA!
One of parkrun’s special traditions is to have an “extra” day each year, varied by country. In Canada, it’s Canada Day… In the UK it’s Christmas Day… And in the USA – it’s Thanksgiving Day! One of the biggest days for running in the year, 18 parkruns held turkey day events this week for a…
Each year, parkruns around the world celebrate one ‘special day’, where they can hold an additional parkrun outside of the usual Saturday morning. The United States are about to celebrate Thanksgiving, and with it their special parkrunday. Join us as we take a look at the tradition. For much of United States history,…