South Boulder Creek parkrun, pictured above, launched in 2018 and kickstarted a period that up to this year saw the number of events in the country triple. The growth of parkrun in the country has been incredible. In this ‘parkrun’ pause, we look to take stock and look to exciting challenges moving forward.
Since 2012 we’ve had many events join Livonia to the American parkrun family. We now have good coverage across the country from coast to coast and north to south. We have Rock Creek Trail, Portland, in the west and Jamaica Pond, Boston, in the east. Weedon Island parkrun is our most southerly candidate and we are as far north as Seattle with Perrigo parkrun (Alaska we are looking at you to take that!).
David, recovering from injury at Leakin Park parkrun
There are almost 50 events across the country, with half of the states having at least one. The coverage we have is good, but it is clear there is potential for many more events. Judging by the uptake from other countries, and from the photos we see across the USA, it is clear that there is a huge appetite for more events.
Pete Rubinas touring after 61 runs at Durham, doing his 62nd at South Boulder Creek
Enquiries about starting new parkrun locations the last few months has been very high. In January and February we were seeing an average of 2-3 enquiries come into our inbox every day. New enquiries are incredibly exciting as we love discussing the potential for communities getting access where it was difficult before. Not all enquiries turn into new parkrun events of course as being an Event Director is not suitable for all personalities, and not all locations are an exact match. What’s important is that the opportunity was explored.
I believe the country is at an exciting time for parkrun as we fast approach a critical mass of events. We’ve already seen a significant increase in the number of new enquiries. A good proportion of these new event prospects come from parkrunners who have participated at other events. Experiences while on holiday, or where someone is travelling from one end of a city to the other have prompted some to contact us about having one closer to home.
Boston City Councillor Matt O”Malley literally cutting the ribbon Jamaica Pond parkrun
To make it easier for new parkruns to start, we have simplified internal processes. Insurance, equipment and training are all covered meaning that what we ask from parkrun teams is to bring volunteers, establish the route, and obtain the permissions from the landowner.
Getting permission from landowners is gradually becoming easier as our experience dealing with North American cities grows. Public awareness is also on the up however still much work to be done. In ten years the vast majority of parkrunners who will be joining us haven’t heard about us today, so it’s on us to make ourselves as easily discoverable as possible. We will continue to fill our social media with what parkruns are – happy people looking to socialise and be more healthy.
Natalie and Ross recently became regulars at Durham parkrun, NC.
So what’s left? ‘Just’ a virus! At the time of writing all events are closed until the end of April and it’s likely that events will be closed for a longer. What’s for sure is that we will be back. We are making the best of the situation and we are improving internal processes to make how we support parkrunners and teams even better. Our comms team is more active than ever giving people who relied on parkrun a way to interact with the community every week.
We will be back. There will always be a place for parkrun so In the meantime enjoy our content, stay active and be healthy. We’ll be there at the other side.
Delaware and Raritan Canal parkrunners
On Friday last week we published our provisional COVID-19 Framework, describing how parkrun events are likely to return where there remains an underlying level of the virus. We intentionally published the Framework in advance of it being appropriate to open any of the 21 parkrun countries that remain closed, to enable us to progress…
Earlier this week we announced we had completed our COVID-19 Framework, describing how events will operate in countries where an underlying level of community infection still remains. We’d also like to stress that as part of our strategy to return we took the decision to separate defining the way events should be reopened, from…