News - 24th July 2019

We are 6 million strong


In April 2011 parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt kindly printed barcodes for Gill and me. We were about to run our first parkruns at Bushy Park, London and we were complete beginners. Like many first time parkrunners we had very little understanding about how parkrun worked, and no idea why we had to have barcodes. We soon learnt…


Our barcodes were about to welcome us to a world of fun and adventure called parkrun and to a healthy addiction that we have no intention of ending. We soon learnt that these barcodes were our passports and I.D. documents to parkrun, but just as significant were the identification numbers on our barcodes, mine is A136862 and Gill’s A136864. Those numbers recorded exactly how many parkrun participants there were in the world at that time. Gill and I were the very latest members. I remember being amazed that I was one of 136,000 worldwide parkrun participants.


A few days ago the 6 millionth parkrunner registered, becoming the proud owner of barcode number A6000000. It is quite staggering to think that parkrun has grown so quickly in the 8 years since Gill and I joined. What will the numbers look like in another 8 years’ time?


I know I can harp on about our volunteers and that I praise them at almost every opportunity in this newsletter, but they thoroughly deserve this praise. Nowhere has this been better illustrated than at Harkerville parkrun last Saturday where 1 runner and 10 volunteers participated. Cold wet weather dissuaded the regulars from attending. (The beautiful Harkerville parkrun regularly has over 200 participants and has an attendance record of 560 so it must have been really miserable). Thomas Schultz ran alone and finished in just over 34 minutes. It was his first run and he was a visitor.  I am sure he would have been massively disappointed to have journeyed all the way to the parkrun to find no one in attendance. Congratulations to the entire Harkerville volunteer team for your selflessness.


The Eastern Cape welcomes a new parkrun to the parkrun family this Saturday. Adrenalin/Addo parkrun is a fast, flat one lap course run through an exciting adventure park close to the famous Addo Elephant Park.


A few months ago, I remember being quite surprised when my barcode was scanned in a completely different way when I crossed the finish line at the end of a parkrun. Instead of the system of a stopwatch clicking as I finished and then a scanner scanning my barcode a cell phone was pointed at my barcode. This, the parkrun Virtual Volunteer App recorded my performance. As SA parkrun country manager I had obviously been informed about the new system which launched globally some time ago but it was still a surprise the first time I experienced it in action. Interestingly new parkrun territories such as Germany and Japan have never used the old system.


However, unlike Germany and Japan not all our parkrun volunteers have smart phones on which to upload the parkrun Virtual Volunteer App. They are still reliant on the old system. We would like everyone to change to the new system as soon as possible so we started an appeal for parkrunners to donate smart phones to those parkrun events which cannot afford them. Each event requires at least two smart phones.


I would like to thank Prof. Andrew Thatcher (Event Director at Wits parkrun, and a seasoned parkrunner) for his wonderful generosity in donating a brand new smart phone which we will send to Cannibals Cave parkrun.


We are more than happy to accept second-hand phones. If you would like to donate a phone please email.


Cheers for now,


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