As we move from summer towards fall, we keep on parkrunning and parkwalking. It’s what we do. But it’s fun to look back on what has happened this summer, in our busiest few months ever.
And it’s a good excuse to pull out some of our favorite pictures from around parkrun USA.
More people than ever before are taking part in US parkruns on a Saturday morning. That’s not only because new events are starting. It’s also because existing communities are growing.
In the 15 weeks from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend, we saw the following participation:
The number of finishes is 67% higher than the same period in 2018.
More Americans are getting to visit another parkrun community on their travels
In Spring 2018 we wondered when we would first see 1,000 finishers in a single weekend. That came on Memorial Day 2018. This summer we were instead looking forward to seeing 2,000+ finishers in a single weekend. That first happened on July 27th, and it has continued every week since.
The moment when Roosevelt Island parkrun co-event director Joyce Adams heard that they topped 100 finishers for the first time
We enjoy geeking out about participation numbers, but we know these are less important than the stories of how being a part of a healthy community is changing people’s lives. Here are our most popular stories of the summer, as measured by online engagement, in no particular order.
These stories drew a lot of interest. But from week to week, by far the most popular story in our weekly newsletter is the roundup of pictures and stories from across parkrun USA. When our “roundup wranglers” wake up on a Saturday morning they have no idea of the stories they’re going to find, and they always find that they’re spoiled for choice.
At Delaware & Raritan Canal parkrun Patrick is an inspiration to the community
On the Saturday before Memorial Day (May 18th) we launched our 31st and 32nd free, weekly events, in St Petersburg, FL and Lafayette, IN. Right now we’re getting ready to share news of our 41st and 42nd events, coming in October.
Weedon Island Preserve parkrun in St Petersburg made Florida the first state with four parkruns. WIP parkrun follows a spectacular series of trails and boardwalks overlooking Tampa Bay. [Story: parkrun in Paradise.]
Who wouldn’t want to enjoy a walk around Weedon Island Preserve with friends!
McAllister parkrun in Lafayette, IN is the brainchild of local Lions Club volunteer Charlie Short, who saw that the combination of parkrun and a decommissioned golf course presented an opportunity to bring different parts of the community together. [Story: A team effort in Lafayette.]
On one of the hottest days of the year, this fawn was lucky that some vets were taking part in McAllister parkrun in Lafayette, IN
Early June brought a flurry of new launches, in different corners of the country.
Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller parkrun in Woodstock, VT launched in a national park steeped in the history of environmental stewardship. MBR parkrun has a course that is certainly memorable: you start by climbing a forest trail 360’ in the first mile, then do a loop around a secluded pond named The Pogue, before a fun descent back to the start. [Story: What goes up …]
The Pogue at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller parkrun in Woodstock, VT. It’s a big climb, but so worthwhile.
Oak Grove parkrun in Kentucky started on the same June weekend. Again with the goal of bringing together different parts of a community, but in this case in a quite different setting. Oak Grove sits right next to a large military base. Military families are often on the move, and OG parkrun can help create new opportunities to form community connections. [Story: Introducing Oak Grove parkrun.]
It’s not so unusual to find a parkrunner at Oak Grove parkrun carrying a heavy pack, or pushing a double stroller. or both. It’s how they roll.
Perrigo parkrun in Washington State is another parkrun that is motivated by bringing together people in a diverse community. In this case it’s in the tech hub of Redmond, WA, home of Microsoft and other big tech companies. [Story: Meet us at the red barn!]
Big crowd for opening day at Perrigo parkrun in Redmond, WA.
July is our quietest time for event launches. No US parkrun has a July birthday. It’s just too hot in much of the country. (But it’s a great time to launch a new parkrun in Northern Alberta!) But teams were busy getting ready behind the scenes for a lot of new parkruns.
Howard Temin Lakeshore Path parkrun in Madison, WI started right before Labor Day, on a spectacular trail on the University of Wisconsin campus. We feel so lucky to be able to hold free, weekly events in amazing settings throughout the country. [Story: A warm welcome.]
Yeah, we’d quite like to enjoy a post-parkrun coffee at Howard Temin Lakeshore Path parkrun in Madison, WI
And in the weeks ahead we’re looking forward to many more new events. In September we’ll see new parkruns in Portland, OR [story] and Palo Alto, CA [story], followed at the start of October by Cleveland, OH and Atlanta, GA. And we have a few more up our sleeve to share with you before winter sets in.
Our goal is to help everybody be a part of a healthy community: old and young, runners and walkers, large and small, men and women, and all backgrounds.
We know that parkrun can seem daunting to walkers or slower runners. Even with our guarantee that nobody finishes last at parkrun (aside from the volunteer tailwalker), folks don’t want to stand out or be isolated. So we’ve been especially keen to help walkers fit in at parkrun events, and many communities have successfully developed a ‘walking culture’ at their local parkrun.
Adam Popp at South Boulder Creek parkrun
The number of walkers at parkrun USA events is growing faster than overall participation: 150% growth in the first half of the year.
Now a typical US parkrun sees around 30% of finishers who are walking or run-wallking. At the new Sippo Lake parkrun in Canton, OH almost half of the field finishes in over 40 minutes. We just love that!
Sippo Lake parkrun’s friendly crew of walkers
Similarly, we’re happy to be welcoming more families to parkrun. This includes parents and young kids who are using parkrun as a great way to get active outdoors together.
That first day that you ditch the stroller to complete parkrun under your own steam
And it also includes seniors who are often joined by their adult kids. In Summer 2019 participation by 70+ year olds increased by 125% over last year.
Todd Harris and his dad Jim at Pensacola’s Rec Plex North parkrun
As word continues to spread across the US about parkrun, our all-volunteer network of ambassadors is working to support the many individuals and teams who would like to bring parkrun to their community, and they’re also working to help existing teams to offer safe, sustainable, and inclusive weekly events for their community.
Our ambassadors are currently working with individuals and teams that are looking to develop new events in CA, CO, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, MD, MA, MN, NV, NJ, NY, NC, ND, OH, RI, TN, TX, VA, WA, and WY. In addition to the events already in AZ, DC, IN, KY, MI, MO, OR, VT, WV, and WI, this means that we’re working on having parkrun events in 31 states plus DC.
From October 2017 to October 2019 the parkrun USA team will have helped local groups launch 30 new parkrun events throughout the country.
Isaac is a special needs parkrunner at College Park parkrun in MD who feels quite at home with his parkrun friends
Our volunteer ambassador team also curates and shares the hundreds of stories small and large that capture the spirit and values of parkrun. And they are always spoiled for choice in the pictures and stories that they find every week.
Of course, we’re still barely scratching the surface of where a parkrun could make a difference. If you’d like an event in your community, and would like to team up with some others to make it happen, we’d love to hear from you.
Enjoying a spot of barkrunning at Joe Creason parkrun in Louisville, KY
There are super simple ways that you can help us to build more healthy communities through parkrun.
We’re excited for what the fall season will bring.
One of our most popular pictures of the summer. From ace chalker Gordon Keeler at Durham, NC parkrun
The center of the parkrun USA world skewed west this weekend, as we were thrilled to see Byxbee parkrun in Palo Alto, California get off to a great start. Maybe now that we have an event within sight of the Googleplex (really!), even more people will *search for* their local parkrun and *find out* about…
Bernie O’Connor and her family love parkrunning together at Armagh parkrun in Ireland. Bernie’s daughter Jodie has autism and needs one-on-one support. Like many other parents of special needs children, Bernie sees staying fit and healthy as a way to be able to support her daughter for as long as possible. Her local parkrun…