The life-affirming success of parkrun stems from its inclusivity. The weekly events are local and friendly to all comers, whether you plan on thrashing out a PB or walking your first 5K, as we found out when we spoke to four recent converts before parkrun’s International Women’s Day initiative. Every parkrun event has a tail walker, one of the team of volunteers that make parkrun possible, who shepherds the participants home.
The fact that the name of the event uses “run” rather than “walk”, however, may obscure the fact that every week thousands of people walk parkrun. Parkrun’s own research revealed that “some people feel that if they walk at parkrun they will hold others up, slow them down, will be on their own, or will not be welcomed”. But this isn’t the case.
As parkrun celebrates 18 years this October, it is making a push to increase the number of people walking each week by introducing the parkwalk campaign. Walking is a fantastic way to spend your time, and it’ll do everyone’s physical and mental state the world of good. “Walking can help you manage or prevent health conditions, enhance your mood, boost fitness and bring you into contact with some amazing places and people,” says parkrun’s launch blog.
If you’re someone who has never taken part in a parkrun then this October is the perfect time to give it a try. If you’re an experienced parkrunner it’s a great month to invite a friend and walk with them, or even volunteer to support any new faces at your local event.
To support parkwalk in October and beyond, a new volunteer role has been created – parkwalker. It’s in addition to the tail walker, and is designed to be another friendly face in the pack of walkers.
Then in the first two weekends of November, Walk with Joe (yes, Joe Wicks) encourages people to turn up in fancy dress, connect with their community and raise money for BBC Children in Need’s Spotacular campaign.
“I’m a massive advocate of moving the body to help the mind,” says Wicks, “and walking and talking with family and friends has always been really important to me.” What more encouragement do you need?
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.