We are often asked how we are able to offer parkrun events every single week, for free. What’s the catch? The appearance of new parkrun “apricot shirts” in the US this week is a great way to start our series on How We Keep parkrun Free Forever. And an excuse to show off your apricot pictures from around the US.
parkrun promises to be free, forever to participants. You will never be required to pay a cent to take part. But an organization that serves almost 300,000 people per week worldwide does cost money.
All parkrun events are 100% led by local volunteers. The parkrun USA team is also 100% volunteers. We’ll talk in a future piece about the central infrastructure that supports almost 6 million registrants and 1500 events worldwide every weekend.
But here we’ll focus on the milestone shirts …
When Darren Wood became the first person to complete 100 events, parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt was so impressed that he made him a nice black jacket. He did not expect many people to reach this milestone.
How wrong he was! As of today, around 75,000 people have completed 100 parkruns.
The jackets soon turned into the milestone t-shirts that we know today, with free shirts earned for completing 50, 100, 250, and 500 parkruns, later adding a 10-parkrun milestone for under 18s, and the purple shirt for volunteering 25 times.
Currently around 2,000 new milestone shirts are earned every week, that’s 100,000 per year. And they’re all free to the person who earns them.
One way that parkrun supports the free milestone shirts is through sales of merchandise like the apricot series. Proceeds from sales of these shirts directly support the milestone shirts program.
The apricot shirts are not the cheapest shirt you can find. At current exchange rates the cost is around $42. Shipping to the US is free, as is personalization with the name of your home parkrun. (And US customers don’t have to pay the 20% sales tax that applies in the UK.)
But the cost is less than the cost of two typical 5k events. And you get a high quality shirt that you’ll want to wear again and again, at a 5k event that is free forever.
You can order an apricot shirt from Pro Direct Running. Be sure to order the international version.
The new line of apricot shirts was recently released after a long period of unavailability. So for many US parkrun events this past week saw the first appearances of parkrunners wearing local apricot shirts with pride.
Here are a few that we found …
Kensington parkrun, where the coolest moms wear apricot.
Leakin Park parkrun. Yes, the Park is in the name.
Rec Plex North parkrun. When Dad (and Granddad) is the Co-Event Director, you really need an apricot shirt.
Some event names don’t fit on one line, like Delaware and Raritan Canal parkrun.
Some people can’t choose which is their home parkrun.
But you can’t be at two parkruns at the same time. This week Josh chose Lillie.
First parkrun apricot shirt in Texas, for Terry Hershey parkrun.
Sean may have the first parkrun apricot shirt in Colorado. Seen this week at South Boulder Creek parkrun.
There are a couple of these Moberly parkrun shirts now in Missouri.
Fletcher’s Cove parkrun shirts were last available when you could count the number of US parkruns on your fingers.
And these Jamaica Pond parkrun shirts are about to head to the UK, where they may be spotted at Laura and Drew’s pre-wedding parkrun this week.
And sometimes you don’t need the personalization, like this shirt seen at Mansfield OH parkrun.
When we look through the photos from 40-odd parkrun events every week, we love seeing so many happy faces. It’s a great reminder that, despite all of our differences, parkrun brings us together. There’s nothing more powerful than the shared joy of moving our bodies outside, whether it’s in the heat and humidity of Florida…
We all know that parkrun events are free, friendly, forever thanks to the volunteers who make every parkrun happen. Less widely known is that the local teams are supported by the parkrun ambassadors, volunteers who support new and existing events and much more besides. This past weekend the parkrun USA ambassadors team held their…