parkruns are fun and sociable opportunities for people to participate in some physical activity. They are free 5K events, coordinated entirely by local volunteers that take place every Saturday morning in 540 parks and open spaces across the UK. parkrun is open to everyone and is whatever you want it to be – you can walk, run or volunteer – and each event finishes with a chat and a cuppa.
parkrun has set up a project to improve accessibility to its events to encourage more people with disabilities and long-term health conditions to participate, with the aim of improving health and wellbeing by promoting physical activity and social engagement. What’s more, parkrun takes away any worries about finishing last, with volunteer Tail Walkers providing support and encouragement for anyone who chooses to walk the 5K course.
Siân has lupus, and has been taking part in parkrun since 2015;
“Following the diagnosis of lupus, I knew that running wasn’t for me any longer – my body and joints simply didn’t like it, but I knew I could walk, and that was achievable.”
“When a new parkrun started locally, I decided that I was going to take part! I will be honest and admit that pure anger got me round my first parkrun – I was angry at myself, and at my lupus for not allowing me to run any longer, and I was angry at all the runners who were still able to run and do what I used to enjoy – I wanted more than anything to be ‘the same’ as them. As I crossed the finish line, there was emotions of relief and pride – only I knew how far I’d come over the past few years to get to that finish line, and it far exceeded 5K.”
“From then on, I was a regular participant and volunteer at parkrun. Over time, my fitness improved further and my confidence grew. I’m now a proud owner of a ‘parkrun 50’ milestone t-shirt – if you’d have told me a couple of years ago that I’d achieve 50 parkruns, I wouldn’t have believed you. I’m also in the parkrun ‘Volunteer Club’ having volunteered on more than 25 different occasions.”
“Due to its inclusive and community-rich nature, parkrun has enhanced my life beyond words; I’ve made new friends in our parkrun family, I’ve challenged myself and developed as a person, and my physical and mental health have both improved.”
Siân ‘Nordic walks’ all her parkrun events. Nordic walking uses specially designed poles to enhance a person’s natural walking experience.
Exercise plays an important part in helping to manage the health and wellbeing of lupus. Recognising this benefit, the PROVE project (parkrun: Running or Volunteering for Everyone) has started a group for people with arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions, and to reach out to non-parkrunners living with similar conditions to make them aware of what parkrun has to offer. There is also a closed Facebook group for people to share stories, advice and tips on parkrun, exercise and their condition in a supportive manner. This can be found by searching for ‘parkrun arthritis’ on Facebook (or through the link below).
parkrun – www.parkrun.org.uk
Facebook group for arthritis & MSK – www.facebook.com/groups/parkrun.for.arthritis.and.MSK.conditions