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parkrun UK: 2016 Run Report


Pre-Run Welcome


Supporting parkrunners

Paul’s Pre-Run Welcome

Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre

A Message from the Chief Executive Officer

Incidents, Safeguarding & Support

A Message from the Chief Operating Officer


Our Impact So Far


Analysing The Numbers Financials

The Numbers

Global Stats

Alison Mead’s Story


Ambassadors & Volunteers


Thanks The Core Team

Our Volunteers Yvonne Edwards’ Story


junior parkrun Billy Johnstone’s Story


Major Milestones & Talking Points One-millionth parkrunner Little Stoke parkrun Awards Social Media Dawn Nisbet’s Story But Why Apricot? Neil Cole’s Story



Paul’s pre-run welcome What an incredible year 2016 was for parkrun and junior parkrun in the UK. When we sat down to compile this, our first-ever annual review, it was a rare opportunity for us to take a moment to reflect. Not just on our amazing growth and landmark achievements over the past year, but how much we had matured both as an organisation and a wider movement.

and community awards. Many of them were interviewed by the press, appeared on television and radio, and attended schools, conferences and events to spread the word about the incredible impact that parkrun has had in their areas. This impact so often extends far beyond Saturday and Sunday mornings and for many people it is truly life-changing.

In 2016 we celebrated our 12th birthday, and as we enter our exciting ‘teenage’ years we are in a fantastic position to continue with our vision of making the world a healthier and happier place.

parkrun has been on a continual learning curve since the initial seed was planted back in 2004, and we continue to rise to the challenge of breaking down barriers to participation and bringing people together from all walks of life to walk, jog, run and volunteer whenever they choose.

I still find it hard to believe that a concept as simple as a free run with friends and family has captured the imagination of millions of people from all walks of life. We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to so many generous folk, not least the 91,000 people who wore the high-vis in 2016 alone – marking out courses, timing, scanning, processing results and everything in between.

Thanks to all of you for your support of parkrun. I hope you enjoy looking back at what we achieved together in 2016.

Hundreds of these volunteers, and the parkruns and junior parkruns they represent, were rightly recognised by their local communities with sports

Paul Sinton-Hewitt, CBE parkrun Founder parkrunner A1674



“We now dedicate every day to ‘a healthier and happier planet’, a statement that is intentionally ambitious, and represents our desire to instigate change, and proactively target areas where parkrun can make a difference.”

A message from our Chief Executive Officer The past 12 months have been momentous for parkrun in the UK; a year of incredible achievements, major challenges and, of course, continued spectacular growth and positive impacts. 2016 represented my first full year as Chief Executive Officer: a role that fills me with a great sense of responsibility, as well as tremendous excitement. I am proud to work with a committed, hard-working team of wonderful people who are passionate about making a positive difference to the world. Over the past couple of years, we’ve invested a lot of time in defining and clarifying our mission, objectives and values. We are determined to do more than simply facilitate the setting up of more events, but to also create a lasting legacy of healthy, active lifestyles. In 2016 we redefined our previous mission statement from “a parkrun in every community that wants one”; a mission that had served us well for our first 11 years, reflecting the demand-led model that had created an unstoppable movement, 6

based around empowering communities, making physical activity fun and accessible, and championing everyone as an equal. We now dedicate every day to ‘a healthier and happier planet’, a statement that is intentionally ambitious, and represents our desire to instigate change, and pro-actively target areas where parkrun can make a difference. To achieve this, we have to modify our traditional ‘organic’ approach, to specifically target those individuals and communities most in need, breaking down the barriers that may prevent them from engaging with parkrun. Our work has really only just begun.

Nick Pearson parkrunner A18497


“In 2016 we launched parkrun Sweden and parkrun Canada, and re-launched parkrun USA.� Through 2016 we saw continued growth amongst the established parkrun territories, as we launched another 129 non-UK events and for the first time there were more 5k parkrun events outside the UK than inside.

A message from our Chief Operating Officer In 2009 we launched parkrun in Denmark, with 20 runners and seven volunteers, at the inaugural Amager Faelled parkrun. Other countries soon followed and by the end of 2015 we were operating in 331 locations across 11 non-UK territories. By that time Australia, South Africa and Ireland had grown particularly well, were contributing more than 50,000 weekly runners, and we were receiving requests every week from other countries all around the world.

As well as this we saw wonderful signs of progress towards our mission of creating a healthier and happier planet: parkrun South Africa achieved their 500,000th registration and opened in several townships, parkrun Ireland saw phenomenal engagement with previously inactive people through various Couch to parkrun initiatives, parkrun Australia opened their 200th location and saw more than 50% of their runs completed by women, parkrun Poland saw 100,000 annual run performances for the first time and parkrun Russia exceeded 20 locations and 1,000 weekly runners. Also in 2016, we launched parkrun Sweden and parkrun Canada, re-launched parkrun USA, and continued to deliver events in New Zealand, Denmark, Singapore, Italy and France. I was fortunate enough to visit parkrun events in a number of those countries and, without exception, was humbled by the welcome I received as one of the three million members of the global parkrun family.

Tom Williams parkrunner A6013



OUR IMPACT SO FAR In 2016 we took a closer look at how parkrun

can change the lives of specific groups within society — particularly those for whom access

to, and participation in, physical activity and volunteering is not the norm. Going forward our focus will be on continuing to remove barriers to engagement and promoting participation by all.



parkrun UK 2016











Alison Mead’s Story “In 2005 I lost my sight following a brain haemorrhage and four strokes. Afterwards I put on a huge amount of weight.” I had always been active and enjoyed swimming, badminton and table-tennis, but sport of any kind seemed no longer an option. I have Ted my guide dog but I am single and have limited family support. In 2013 I was guided in a sprint triathlon that I really enjoyed, so I contacted British Triathlon looking for a way to take part in sport again. They put me in touch with a wonderful women called Roz McGinty. Roz had not had any training as a guide so we just went for a few runs along a path near my house to get used to running together. In November 2014 Roz guided me at my first parkrun, at St Albans. When I crossed the finish line I remember being really pleased that I had been able to complete the course and I wanted to do another one. Unfortunately St Albans is a 30 minute drive from where I live, so attending every week just wasn’t practical. Luckily, a few months later, South Oxhey parkrun started within walking distance of my home. Since my first run there on 14 February 2015, I have either run or volunteered almost every Saturday. Since my first South Oxhey parkrun I have only missed parkrun twice. Once was on a very cold November day when Roz and I took part in the


Commando Obstacle Race at Hever Castle, and the other time was earlier this month when a virus got the better of me. Lesley Keddy, one of the Run Directors and Ricky Running Sisters (a local running club of which I am now a member) coordinates a list of volunteers, some from our club and some parkrunners and members of other running clubs, who guide me. Lesley also tries to find someone willing to look after my guide dog Ted, as I can only run if somebody will hold him. Guides are often just as nervous as me, maybe even more so when we first run together, but with good communication it all runs smoothly – quite literally! I have also volunteered on 15 occasions as a course marshal, barcode scanner and as tail runner with the help of my VI guide. I really enjoy scanning because it’s a great way to meet people. When parkrunners approach me to hand me their barcode and finishing token I ask for them in the correct order, barcode then finishing token. It works really well and means I get the chance to chat to people and learn their names as well as scanning. The atmosphere at parkrun is fantastic and I love being with other people who are running and encouraging each other. I enjoy meeting people who have similar interests and am making new friends. Not being able to see where I am is a bit unnerving sometimes but the enjoyment of running is so much greater than the nerves. I rely on sound – listening to the directions from my guide and feeling what I can through the tether or contact – and I only know who the runners or volunteers are when they tell me.


Ride London event. I would also love to step up to an Olympic distance triathlon one day. When I started to get involved with parkrun I had no idea that it would change my life in so many positive ways. Through parkrun I have had the opportunity to speak to other VI people at Sight Village events about physical activity and the benefits it has, and a number of those people have now been introduced to parkrun. I spoke at the parkrun Ambassador Conference in 2016 alongside some other VI parkrunners, and I help to inform some of the work that parkrun is undertaking as part of its VI Project. There’s no doubt that parkrun will become even more accessible to VI runners, joggers, walkers and volunteers over the coming years, and this is truly exciting.

I run because it makes me feel physically and mentally stronger and is helping me lose weight. I have arthritis which doesn’t hurt as much if I exercise. I am asthmatic so running helps me control my breathing. I have depression which sometimes gets really bad, but running helps me. parkrun has become an enormous part of my life and I miss it when I can’t go. It is my main training opportunity, enabling me to stay active enough to take part in the occasional triathlon. I now have guides who have become friends and help me in the other two triathlon disciplines. I am now training with Evelyn, one of my parkrun guides and friends, as I have a place in the 2017

My advice to every visually impaired person who wants to try running is three simple words – do a parkrun! If you don’t have anyone to guide you, ask your local parkrun if someone is in a position to help. Running helps physically and mentally, it increases confidence and through it you will make some wonderful friends.

Alison Mead parkrunner A1124421

“parkrun has given me so much, I really can’t recommend it highly enough, parkrun changes lives!”



AMBASSADORS & VOLUNTEERS We first exceeded 100 UK event locations in 2012 and realised our success had come, in

part, from empowering local people to take on a leadership role. In 2013 we invited 50

of our most passionate volunteers, from all

four corners of the UK, to Birmingham for our first ever UK Conference: and the parkrun UK Ambassador programme was born.





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The value of time volunteered at parkrun in 2016 was worth more than ÂŁ5 million

Throughout 2016, our 577 parkrun and junior parkrun events across the UK were supported by 91,000 different volunteers, who volunteered a phenomenal 488,792 times.

Since the introduction of the Ambassador programme, these amazing parkrun volunteers have transformed our ability to support individual parkrun communities, and played a critical role in launching hundreds of new events. By the end of 2016, there were more than 100 parkrun UK Ambassadors and 13 Lead Ambassadors.

Volunteering brings a range of benefits to all involved, the total value of which is difficult to quantify. However, using the National Living Wage* as a benchmark it works out at more than ÂŁ5 million for 2016 alone. * ÂŁ7.20 for adults aged 25 and over



Yvonne Edwards’ Story “As one runner once said to me, ‘we couldn’t do this without you volunteers’ ” I first started running, ‘putting one foot in front of the other’, in my early forties to try to alleviate the stress I was experiencing at the time. It certainly helped me to become a more confident person. I joined Ackworth Road Runners and progressed with the help and friendship of other athletes and enjoyed racing with them at 10k, half marathon and marathon distances. I am very proud to say I ran the London Marathon in 4 hours 15 minutes. Nowadays it is more walking due to arthritic joints but I intend to keep them moving! I first became involved in the parkrun family through my local running club who helped to set up Pontefract parkrun, which I joined a few weeks after the idea was conceived. parkrun is my absolute ideal ethos and I instantly wanted to spread the word to local families and get the young ones involved. How wonderful it is to see families enjoying activities together. I have volunteered at parkrun and junior parkrun on 250 occasions in various roles, including barcode scanning 179 times. This ethos is embedded in me which is why I keep coming back to volunteer. I love the enthusiasm from participants old and young, encouraged by extremely vocal volunteers.

My favourite role is probably scanning as I get to speak to participants and encourage young ones to keep coming. I always say to any nervous first timers ‘remember it is not a race, just go at your own pace and enjoy it’. It’s great to see people willing to give their time to volunteer and to hear others say how much they appreciate the volunteers. As one runner once said to me ‘we couldn’t do this without you volunteers’. We don’t do it for the gratification but it is very welcome. Some people are nervous when they first help out but soon realise what a great bunch we are; parkrun volunteers work as a team to support each other and hopefully first-timers will keep coming back to try a different role as a result of our encouragement. Recently I completed my first parkrun. This came about after I jokingly said I was going to run instead of scan one week and our Run Director, Ian, suggested I combine it with my 250th time of volunteering. I was overjoyed to be on the other side of the scanner and to have my barcode scanned. Nobody could believe it was my first time as I come with the fixtures and fittings so to speak, but the reception I got before and after the run was so fantastic that I might do it again – knees permitting!

Yvonne Edwards parkrunner A143513





JUNIOR PARKRUN Although the first junior parkrun event was launched in 2010, it wasn’t until the end of 2013 that things really took off, when we

developed a specific strategy to introduce a nationwide junior parkrun series.







Total number of children joining milestone* clubs in 2016:


Half Marathon




Ultra Marathon

By the end of 2015 there were 78 2k junior parkrun events across the UK, and the growth showed no signs of abating. Amazingly, 2016 saw nearly 100% year-on-year growth in participation in junior events. Last year alone, we launched another 61 events, and 69,000 different children completed 392,000 2k runs, accompanied by tens of thousands of parents, and supported by 15,000 different volunteers.

*Milestones: Half marathon = 11 runs, Marathon = 21 runs, Ultra Marathon = 50 runs

Billy Johnstone’s Story 13-year-old Billy Johnstone was the first boy in the world to join the ultra marathon club by participating in 50 junior parkruns. We asked Billy what he likes about junior parkrun, and what words of encouragement he has for other people his age who are thinking about taking part. “I first got involved with junior parkrun when I was 10 years old. My dad is the volunteer coordinator at Roundhay juniors and was one of the core team who set it up. I went for the first time with my family on 24 November 2013 and my time was 11 minutes and 6 seconds for the 2k course. I like junior parkrun for lots of reasons. I have made lots of new friends, it’s not as long as 5k parkrun on Saturdays, and it helps keep me fit. junior parkrun definitely helped me get into Set 1 for school PE. Oh, and I really like volunteering as well.

Every week is memorable and fun. There are never two weeks that are the same. I have recently really enjoyed being a VI guide runner for a visually impaired runner at Roundhay juniors. I have now done 119 junior parkruns, and every time I pass a new participation milestone I get a feeling of accomplishment because I have done something I have never done before. Last year I joined around 80 other young people as part of the new ‘parkrun youth panel’. The youth panel was set up to give young people like me the opportunity to shape the future of parkrun, especially when it comes to things that affect junior parkrunners. I applied because I wanted to do something my parents couldn’t, and I like helping parkrun. I have made a poster and done numerous other creative activities. I would say to any other young people that junior parkrun is great fun and a great environment. You can’t come last because there’s a tail runner who is always the final person to cross the line. There is no pressure because it’s a run, not a race, which means that you can run it or walk it, and everyone is welcome!”

Billy Johnstone parkrunner A287193 23


MAJOR MILESTONES & TALKING POINTS We reached new milestones in 2016, and set a string of personal bests. parkrun UK featured in more column inches than ever before as the major topic for discussion over a post-

run coffee centred on the fate of Little Stoke parkrun near Bristol.




one millio parkru


May saw the one-millionth different person take part in a UK parkrun, and coincided with the first time that more than 100,000 people completed a UK parkrun across a single weekend.

BBC News created a three-minute feature charting the rise of the parkrun phenomenon and commemorating both of these milestones, which was broadcast on the 1pm, 6pm and 10pm bulletins.




Unique UK parkrunners at year end 2016

onth unner 2004




























Awards Throughout 2016 more than 40 UK parkrun events, and a number of core volunteers, were honoured at a regional level. These were across council, sport, volunteering and public health awards, with numerous others also shortlisted.

‘Participation Event of the Year’ BT Sport Industry Awards

Such awards and nominations rightly recognise and celebrate the significant contribution of parkrun volunteers in making their communities healthier and happier.

‘National Inspiring Initiative’

Nationally, parkrun UK won the prestigious BT Sport Industry Award for ‘Participation Event of the Year’, the ‘National Inspiring Initiative’ category at the Women’s Sports #BeAGameChanger Awards and ‘Best Event Series’ at the 2016 Running Awards (for the third consecutive year).

‘Best Event Series’

Women’s Sports Awards

2016 Running Awards

Little Stoke In April we faced a unique challenge following the decision of Stoke Gifford Parish Council to charge adult parkrunners to participate in Little Stoke parkrun. Despite our best efforts to find alternative ways to assist the Council in ways other than imposing a charge, along with the outpouring of support from politicians, high-profile athletes, celebrities and sport governing bodies, we took the difficult choice to close Little Stoke parkrun. The parkrun model of utilising public open spaces means that our relationships with local authorities and landowners will always be paramount. The closure of Little Stoke parkrun led to a wider discussion about the importance of our parks and

open spaces and the role they play in the lives of the people who use them. The Communities and Local Government Committee conducted a UK-wide survey into park use over the summer, which attracted more than 13,000 responses. Two-thousand people used the free text box to describe what they use their local park for. The most common activity was clear: parkrun.

Two-thousand people were asked what they use their local park for. The most common activity was clear: parkrun. 29



We took great strides to change our imagery and messaging to better reflect our mission, and revised our news and blog content to cover a much wider range of stories, showcasing the true essence of parkrun and helping to inspire more people to take part. By the end of the year, more than one million people were receiving our UK email newsletter every week. On social media, the parkrun UK Facebook page received 32,546 new likes, a 92% 30



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increase on 2015 to 76,900. In total there were 16.5 million impressions from UK posts, not including more than 500 additional event-specific Facebook pages. In addition to more than 30k followers on Instagram, more than 100k people followed @parkrun and @parkrunUK on Twitter by the end of the year, and in 2016, tweets from these two accounts were seen over 27 million times, compared with 5.8 million impressions in 2015.

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Every Saturday morning #parkrun is a trending topic on Twitter in the UK. 31


Dawn Nisbet’s Story “I love this photo of me at parkrun. For someone with low confidence to love a photo of them where there are jiggly bits, sweat, no makeup and no posing is highly unusual – but this is now my Facebook profile picture and I share it with pride. It shows the joy and sheer happiness that I have discovered thanks to parkrun, and it shows Jarrod my tail runner that day who stayed with me the whole time and who I now consider a friend.” Few photos in parkrun history have been shared on social media more times than this image of Dawn Nisbet at Oldham parkrun. Dawn explains the story behind the photo and reveals her hope that it will inspire and motivate other people to make positive changes in their lives. In April 2016, a very close family member was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Feeling very powerless to help or do anything I decided to do the Pretty Muddy Race for Life planned for July, that way I felt I was helping and doing my part and showing my love. My cousins sadly lost their grandfather to cancer around this time so we signed up to the 32

Race for Life as a team to support each other and hopefully have a little fun along the way. I have to add that at that point I was very overweight, completely inactive except walking my two dogs and at the point where any exercise was difficult and not fun at all. Being so unfit and unhealthy, my opinion of self was low which limited a lot of my activity and self-confidence. Over the next few months we trained (mostly in the evenings under the cover of dark). None of it was pretty, although somewhere along the way I noticed I started to enjoy the mostly walking with a little running and a lot of sweating. I noticed also that my sense of pride through achieving what I had thought was the impossible

was improving and my selfconfidence that each day I was

going out and proving myself (and others) wrong was rising in leaps and bounds. To cut a long story short, we did the race in July and had such a laugh, although the mud did linger a little. A couple of weeks before the race I realised that once I had completed it, with nothing to aim for it was highly likely I would stop running and revert to my old unhealthy ways where I had no pride in myself, and really didn’t want to do that. A colleague at work mentioned ‘parkrun’ to me.


I’d never heard of it before as quite frankly it’s not something I would have ever considered as for me. I researched it on the internet and sent an initial email to Oldham parkrun which is local to me to test the water – I think if I’m honest I was hoping they would say “no you’re too slow and don’t run the whole 5k so thanks but no thanks” which would have meant I had tried and it wasn’t my decision not to go. But they were wonderful, so welcoming, happy for me to

walk the whole thing or whatever suited me. They explained about the tail runner always being last and staying there if I needed them. They even told me the name of the tailrunner the week I planned to come so I could look out for him, and the name of the Run Director so again I could say hi! So the first Saturday after the race I went to my first parkrun. I went super early and was really nervous. I said hello to the run director and then just sat on

the outskirts, watching lots of runners who were super fit and who obviously knew each other really well. I did feel scared as I couldn’t see any particularly overweight runners. Then I found my tail runner ‘Tom’ and said how nervous I was and how slow I was and I wouldn’t stop saying sorry to him for having to stay with me. Every time we passed a marshal I apologised for being so slow – but they all smiled and cheered me on. 33




Tom was a lifesaver and just talked to me the whole way around, running with me when I wanted to and walking with me too. Don’t get me wrong – it hurt and I did cry – but the determination to prove I could do it spurred me on. I don’t know where this comes from as when I look at my 18 years of inactivity, giving up on anything difficult or challenging was a common theme. I made it! I was so slow and everyone else had finished but there was a cheer from the remaining runners and volunteers as I passed the finish line. There was no smile that day or arms in the air as I was crying so hard from pride that I had done it, and probably also a bit of pain and panic as I tried to catch my breath as a sprint to the finish was in order. ‘That’ photo of me smiling was taken during my sixth parkrun and I love it. For someone with low confidence to love a photo of them where there are jiggly bits, sweat, no makeup and no posing is highly unusual – but this is now my profile picture and I share it with pride. It shows joy, it shows Jarrod my tail runner that day who stayed with me the whole time and who I now consider a friend (and who has since offered to

pace me to improve my time even though he is one of the fastest runners at our parkrun). I know a few people have seen my picture and the general comments are that it shows the joy, sheer happiness and pride that I have discovered thanks to parkrun.

Now I’ve done a few, other runners smile and say hello and I have met some friends there too.

I would love for my photo to encourage anyone considering joining parkrun by showing the community that supports such a great event and the inclusivity to all, regardless of age or ability. And every time I look at my picture I know I can do anything I set my mind to and I inspire myself, which is an amazing place to be.

Dawn Nisbet parkrunner A2628879

During 2017 I aim to cover 500k in total, which means lots of parkruns. I am so excited for my year ahead!

I have two daughters and I hope that they see their mum going out and achieving her goals and I hope this inspires them to be the best they can be and to never give up, even when it seems really tough and to be proud. I volunteer regularly at parkrun to pay back to those who have helped me so much. We never leave until the last runner/walker has finished. It doesn’t matter how fast you do it – 5k is still 5k. Don’t get me wrong, I am still slow and it’s still tough, but when you’re the final finisher you get the biggest cheer.




apric Early in the year we launched our first ever

bespoke technical clothing range, with the support of our global partner Tribe Sports.

Designing and retailing a range of running clothing that the community is proud to wear, looks good, and performs brilliantly, provides us with an important and growing revenue stream helping to ensure that parkrun remains free, for everyone, forever. But why apricot? And why don’t we offer more colours? 36

We wanted a parkrun t-shirt to be more than just another functional running t-shirt. We wanted it to do something much more important: to help create a collective parkrun identity. To do this we needed to choose one colour, and commit to just one colour. Of course, it needed to be different from the existing milestone t-shirt colours of white, red, black, green, blue and



cot? purple. But it had to be instantly recognisable and familiar as a parkrun colour.

event customisation, which now accounts for more than 90% of t-shirt sales.

So we chose apricot, already a minor colour in many of the parkrun illustrated landscapes.

So far UK parkrunners have purchased over 20,000 items of apricot technical gear, with every purchase raising important funds that support our pledge to remain free forever.

To make it more personal and reflect the hundreds of different communities that make up parkrun every week we offered individual



Neil Cole’s Story

My first memory of 2015 is from 8 January. It’s of my family standing around my bed in a hospital room, trying to explain to me what had happened. Not a lot was sinking in as I was still heavily sedated, but they were telling me that I’d collapsed on New Year’s Day, that I’d been rushed to hospital, and that the doctors had found a complete blockage within one of the arteries in my heart. I’d suffered a full on cardiac arrest at the age of 34. I tried to piece together what happened but my shortterm memory was completely wiped – apparently a common occurrence for people that have been through a trauma, and an example of the body’s self-defence mechanism. I didn’t even remember starting parkrun, let alone finishing two of them (I did the New Year’s Day ‘double’ at Peckham Rye then 38

another at Hilly Fields). In fact the end of December was also a complete blank as well. It’s probably just as well I have no memory of the day, as the story got more and more frightening as people relayed what had happened to me. I finished the second parkrun (my 58th in total), was in line to have my time recorded, complained to my friend that I wasn’t feeling well, and then collapsed


to the ground. My heart had gone into “ventricular fibrillation” – where for whatever reason it just couldn’t pump enough blood round my body… and then nothing. It stopped beating. There’s no doubt that I survived only because of the intervention of my fellow parkrunners who thankfully had been trained on life-saving techniques. A team of four of them administered CPR for more than 10 minutes while we waited for an ambulance. They somehow kept my blood (and crucially, oxygen) pumping round my body, which meant that when the ambulance arrived they were able to shock my heart back into a normal rhythm and keep me alive. I now know that surviving an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is rare – surviving for more than 15 minutes without a regular heartbeat is extremely rare – and making a full recovery without brain damage or ongoing heart problems is almost unheard of. They put my chances of survival somewhere between 2% and 4% (thankfully this statistic wasn’t passed onto my family at the time!). An ambulance took me to King’s College Hospital, where they removed the blockage in my heart and re-enforced the artery. So what caused the blockage? Well, that’s the bit nobody has ever really been able to explain. Whatever caused it, the biggest positive was that they fixed the problem, and that all the scans were showing my heart to be functioning normally after the operation.

This is where the hospital did something amazing to give me peace of mind – they fitted me with my own personal defibrillator. I have a small device implanted into my side, with a cable that runs across my heart, and this device monitors my heart activity. If my heart ever goes into a dangerous rhythm, it will administer a shock that should effectively ‘reboot’ my heart and get it working again. This means that if it did happen again, I wouldn’t have to rely on my team of life-savers or the appearance of an ambulance to get my heart back into a normal rhythm. As weird as it sounds to have a device sewn into your chest, it provides amazing reassurance to know you have your own little insurance policy should anything go wrong again. I started with a few quick walks on the treadmill, and within a few months I had built up to being able to run properly again. On 8 August 2015, I made my return to parkrun in a not-too-shabby time of 28 minutes 47 seconds.

“In 2016 I joined the 100 Club but my 108th parkrun was the major milestone — my 50th ‘bonus run’ since being given my second chance.”

For the first month after the arrest, I couldn’t even imagine running again. I was in hospital for 23 days, and when I was finally discharged my legs were so weak I couldn’t walk to the end of my road without feeling like I’d done a marathon. Apparently for many people the hardest part of recovery from any sort of heart attack is psychological – that constant worry about it happening again.



Every time I go back to parkrun I’m reminded of the fabulous people at Hilly Fields who kept me alive. It was only their amazingly quick thinking and teamwork to perform CPR on me for more than ten minutes that gave me the chance to pull through and get back to running. In 2016 I finally joined the 100 Club, but for me it was my 108th parkrun that was the major milestone. That was my 50th ‘bonus parkrun’ since being given my second chance. I wonder if parkrun does a milestone t-shirt for that?! I was delighted to do it at Hilly Fields parkrun, the first time I’ve been back since suffering my cardiac arrest there two years ago. My time was 25:41, nearly two minutes quicker than that fateful run on New Year’s Day 2015, but the time is largely irrelevant. I got round, my heart behaved impeccably(!), and the reception I received from the Hilly Fields run director, volunteers and regular parkrunners was fantastic and, to be honest, a little emotional.


Several people came up to me to say that they were there that day, and how scary it was for them despite not knowing me. They told me that it meant a lot to everyone that I am in good health and back doing parkrun. Hilly Fields received a defibrillator from the London Ambulance Service a few weeks after my cardiac arrest. I am now helping the LAS fund more AEDs for public places by running the Reading Half Marathon in March and donating any sponsorship to their charitable fund. I set an ambitious target of £3,000 (enough for three AEDs) and am very nearly there already. I’m so pleased to see that even in the short time since my own cardiac arrest, parkrun as an organisation is well on its way towards its goal of all 5k parkruns in the UK having access to AEDs. These fantastic machines massively increase the chances of survival from cardiac arrest and are incredibly simple to use.

Neil Cole parkrunner A94883




RESEARCH & INSIGHTS In 2016 we took the important step of

partnering with the Advanced Wellbeing

Research Centre (AWRC), the centerpiece of Sheffield’s Olympic Legacy Park, in order to

develop the insight necessary to inform our work.







“parkrun is an internationallyrenowned organisation that hosts more than 1,000 runs per week across the world. Their aims mirror ours in that they want to make it as easy as possible for people to be physically active, helping them to live better for longer.” Professor Steve Haake, Director of the AWRC

Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) In 2016 we took the important step of partnering with the AWRC, the centrepiece of Sheffield’s Olympic Legacy Park, in order to develop the insight necessary to inform our work. The statistics around participation are important, but they only paint a partial picture. In order to ensure we are living up to our mission statement we need to better understand the details behind the headline numbers and, critically, assess whether or not we really are having a positive impact on the health and happiness of individuals and communities. Led by Professor Steve Haake, the AWRC aims to be one of the world’s most advanced research centres for health and wellbeing and will provide the critical

friendship and robust challenge needed to evidence and guide our participation strategies for the future. Our relationship with the AWRC will allow us to support, and help shape, academic research, better understand our own work and impacts, and promote change in wider policy and practice around physical activity and wellbeing. We are committed to challenging ourselves every single day in order to ensure we are living up to our mission statement. It’s really easy to shout about amazing participation numbers, but what’s far more important is understanding the details behind those numbers and, critically, assessing whether or not we really are having a positive impact on the communities in which we operate.



SUPPORTING PARKRUNNERS We take pride in the fact that parkrun is a safe, fun and inclusive environment for people to

enjoy physical activity, every week — for free.





Incidents, Safeguarding and Support We take pride in the fact that parkrun is a safe, fun and inclusive environment for people to enjoy physical activity, every week — for free. However, the larger we become the greater the number of incidents we encounter and, as a result we developed our own internal, online incident recording system. This system allows us to reflect on these incidents, bring in specialist support where needed and, in turn, adapt and refine our operating guidelines appropriately. During 2016, we recorded 2,723 incidents. In 2016 we employed in-house a UK Safeguarding Lead as parkrunner Clare Fowler joined us, bringing a wealth of experience in safeguarding both children and vulnerable adults in the not-for-profit sector. Clare directly supports our event teams and works tirelessly to develop industry-leading policies and procedures. As well as supporting event teams, between March and December 2016 Clare helped process 362 DBS checks, and 120 NSPCC ‘Child Protection in Sport’ training courses as part of our commitment to maintaining best-practice levels of safeguarding. Whilst we know there are many suitably qualified medical professionals amidst our parkrun communities, in 2016 we commenced the roll-out of a programme that will eventually see all UK events having access to an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). Chris Richards (parkrunner A355897) joined us as volunteer National Lead for First Aid & AEDs, bringing in a preferred supplier and assisting with the purchasing of 48 AEDs as a result. This resulted in the number of events with access to an AED increasing by 40%, as by the end of 2016, 69% of 48

5k events had an AED located within five minutes of their finish area. Our global support team respond to more than two thousand enquiries every month. These include, amongst others, responding to parkrunner IT issues, requests from event teams and third party enquiries, as well as managing parkrunner profiles. In the UK, we also provide welfare and technical support phone-lines every weekend. These are looked after by a combination of staff and volunteers able to provide on-the-spot support to event teams.

By the end of 2018 it is our aim that 100% of UK parkrun events will have access to an AED In 2016, the Support Team received 26,000 requests worldwide, of which 15,000 were from the UK.




ANALYSING THE NUMBERS parkrun UK (parkrun Limited) is a not-for-profit

company, limited by guarantee. Essentially this allows us to prioritise helping people become healthier and happier, rather than making

profit for shareholders, through the provision of free community-led socially-focused running events.



Financials Since January 2012, parkrun’s global participation levels have grown by more than 1,000%, yet are still supported by a staff of fewer than 20 people. It’s quite incredible that the biggest running event on the planet, taking place at 1,000 event locations every single week of the year is managed by such a small group of dedicated, committed staff and it demonstrates how transformational parkrun has been in driving down the costs of scaling mass event delivery. Nevertheless, we’re planning to double our staff numbers over the next four years, which in turn will see us increasing our impact even further. The technology infrastructure that facilitates so much of what we do requires continued investment and future-proofing. From the outside, the processing and supporting of one million annual registrations, or eight million annual results, looks effortless, however it’s a constantly evolving challenge requiring considerable maintenance and care. The 2016 costs of operating parkrun in the UK, alongside fulfilling our global responsibilities, were less than £1.5 million, however, in order to support our forecasted growth we will need to increase our income significantly. We are committed to being a frugal, lean, efficient organisation, but financial security and sustainability will continue to be a critical component of our strategic challenges. The following is an approximate breakdown of the distribution of 2016 expenditure and income for the UK-based team, responsible for delivering all parkrun events in the UK and supporting delivery of parkrun around the world.

2016 Expenditure 52% Total Staff Costs*

17% Technology Costs

13% Event Costs

7% Travel

6% Admin

5% Staff & Volunteer Training

2016 Income 38% Grant Funding

28% Sponsorship

16% Local Funding

14% Retail Sales

4% International Income *Total Staff Costs include Company NI contributions, statutory pension contributions and costs for temporary non contract staff.


Global Activities 2016









670,342 456,282











91,094 49,651



488,792 197,751




2017 AND BEYOND We look towards 2017 with great optimism. We will launch our 700th UK event, welcome our twomillionth registered UK parkrunner, celebrate our 13th birthday, and possibly even congratulate our twenty-millionth UK finisher!

community-led, physical activity. We will continue to challenge ourselves every single day, holding ourselves accountable to the highest possible standards, and working tirelessly towards our goal.

More importantly, we will increase our efforts to engage those most in need of socially-focused,

A healthier, happier planet. 55


CORE TEAM Cath Jones, Finance Manager

Glen Turner, Press & Media Manager

parkrunner A33656

parkrunner A65462

Manages financial affairs in the UK and prepares monthly

Manages press enquiries and media relations. Oversees

management accounts for the Board.

the weekly UK and Ireland email newsletters and Facebook channels and is responsible for curating and

Cathy Martin, Administrator

sharing impactful parkrunner stories.

parkrunner A769125 Responsible for office administration, organisation of

Helen Hood, Head of Event Delivery

staff and volunteer training events, administers reporting

parkrunner A165246

and internal information.

Responsible for process and policy at all parkrun events in UK.

Chris Jones, Head of Fundraising parkrunner A19147

Ian Rutson, Technical Lead

Works with national and local grant funding organisations

parkrunner A249753

to access grant funding, and to manage the reporting of

Manages the global technology and infrastructure

the project and outcomes to the grant funder.

required for parkrun events to operate.

Chrissie Wellington, Health & Wellbeing Lead

James Kemp, Operations Manager

parkrunner A406323

parkrunner A17187

Develops and evaluates interventions to ensure that

Supports all parkrun territories, including the UK, in

parkrun is as accessible to as many people as possible,

managing and developing operations.

especially those from marginalised groups.

Jane Niven, Head of Support Clare Fowler, Safeguarding Lead

parkrunner A45296

parkrunner A1074389

Provides front line global (including UK) runner support

Responsible for the UK safeguarding policy at parkrun.

and international event support, manages global

Manages all incidents reported at parkrun related to

information resources for parkrunners, supports the

safeguarding and child safeguarding.

website setup for all new parkrun events globally.



Jaz Bangerh, Head of HR & Volunteer Management

Rowan Ardill, Engagement Officer

parkrunner A7786

parkrunner A72589

Manages and supports staff and volunteers.

Responsible for a specific outreach project, increasing junior parkrun events and participation in the most

Joanne Sinton-Hewitt, Event Support Manager

socially deprived areas of the UK.

parkrunner A987 Provides front line support for all parkrun events in the

Russ Jefferys, Head of Communications

UK, supports volunteer teams in delivering parkrun,

parkrunner A169596

manages the activation of all new parkrun UK events.

Leads the global communications team, responsible for all brand, marketing and communication and

Mike Graney, Head of Analysis

management of commercial partners.

parkrunner A41158 Analyses parkrun data, creating the insight that steers

Tom Fairbrother, Communications Executive

strategy and decision making.

parkrunner A336230 Manages UK Twitter and Instagram, non-UK and Ireland

Nick Pearson, Chief Executive Officer

newsletters, and the use and permissions for parkrun

parkrunner A18497

branding by events, stakeholders and third parties.

Leads the parkrun team globally. Develops global strategy, culture and a sustainable business model.

Tom Williams, Chief Operating Officer parkrunner A6013

Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE, Founder

Develops global growth and operational strategies.

parkrunner A1674 Established Bushy Park Time Trial in October 2004 and created the movement that became parkrun.


Designed by

Š parkrun Ltd 2017

Profile for parkrun

parkrun UK 2016 Run Report  

Official review of 2016 by parkrun UK.

parkrun UK 2016 Run Report  

Official review of 2016 by parkrun UK.

Profile for parkrun