Parkrun Celebrates 150th Event

Parkrun is a five-kilometre community run held every Saturday morning. First started in 2004 by Paul Sinton-Hewitt at Bushy Park in London, Parkruns have been set up in over 2,000 locations, in 22 countries.

As Henley Parkrun marked its 150th event, Henley Herald caught up with Run Director, Simon Lunn to find out more.

“You register on the website and get given a barcode you can print off. And you just turn up with that barcode, and run the course. When you finish, you’re given a token, which also has a barcode on it, and we scan it to enter on your personal record, where you can see the results of the race and time of your runs.

“When you register, you can turn up to any Parkrun in the world! Every week, at the start we ask if there are any tourists, and people will laugh and say they’re from Maidenhead Parkrun and so on, but then you’ll get somebody from France or Australia!”  Indeed, at last Saturday’s run there was someone visiting from South Africa.

“Henley Parkrun has been going for over four years now, with a break for COVID. Pre-COVID, we used to start on the footpath, it was very crammed and wasn’t a very COVID friendly way of operating. So that’s when we approached Henley College and they kindly granted us use of their fields. Now, we’ve got a really spread out start and finish and I’d like to thank them for that.

“We need a team of around 10 volunteers each week to marshal, time-keep and make sure nobody’s left out on the course. Some people, both runners and volunteers have been turning up for basically every event since it started, organising and making sure it ran, so it feels like a landmark achievement that we did actually get here to the 150th run!”

“On our website, we keep a record of the fastest runners, however, Parkruns aren’t about people breaking records, it’s about trying to be as accessible as possible to anybody who wants to do it – very much a run and not a race.”

“We’ve got people who walk and jog. We’ve got people who do just one lap because they’re trying to get their fitness up to do two laps. We’ve got people who just volunteer to help us out. And some people walk the whole course which is absolutely fine. We’re big on the fact that it’s non-competitive and friendly. For a lot of people, it’s now become an important part of their weekly life, both the run and the community.”

Peter Fennelly, Phil Ashton and Rebecca O’Connell were first time Parkrunners.  Carla Minter was completing her 25th run and Sarah Joyce completed 100th run and provided cake to celebrate.  There were 26 people running this course for the first time ever, and 9 PBs. That means that 35 people walked, jogged or ran faster around this course on a parkrunday than before – which is over half of the field of 69.

Henley Parkrun is free and open to all, every Saturday morning at 9am – 40 Acre Path, Tilebarn Close, Henley.