The UK's biggest free running movement finally returns this weekend, after the coronavirus pandemic forced it to shut down completely.

Iconic mass participation event, parkrun, will get back underway on Saturday after the government roadmap paved the way to bring people back together in parks across the land.

parkrun organise weekly 5km runs across the world. It is continuing to grow in popularity and the benefits don’t stop at improving your fitness.

Here’s 10 reasons why you should be doing parkrun.

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1. It’s Free

Unlike a standard organised race, which could set you back anything from £15-£35, parkrun is free to enter every week! All you need to do is register on the website and print off a copy of your unique barcode.

2. Timing is included

Your barcode is important, because that is what enters you into the event. At the end of the run, your barcode is scanned and you will receive an official finish time via SMS and email. This helps you keep track of your progress, shows where you are in the field and even lets you know when you’ve completed a PB (personal best) and there’s no better feeling than hitting a PB!

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3. You don’t have to be good at running

Pandemics-permitting, every week thousands of people take part in parkrun, ranging from bona-fide athletes to senior citizens. 

You don’t even have to run it. People jog and walk, getting around at their own pace.

The range of participants is very broad. Amongst the runners you might see people who are visually impaired, wheelchair users, morbidly obese, disabled, over 80-years-old or pushing prams. It really is the most inclusive activity going.

4. There’s one near you

No matter where you live in the UK, there will be a parkrun near you. Most are set in beautiful parkland settings and attract participants in their hundreds.

An up-to-date list of 5k parkrun events with landowner permission can be found here, and the vast majority of those events are now preparing to reopen on Saturday, July 24.

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5. You can do different courses

Just because you live 10 minutes from your local parkrun doesn’t mean you have to do it every week. Once you are registered, your barcode is valid to participate in any event. No other prior registration is required, just turn up with your barcode and run.

6. It will improve your health

Regular moderately intensive exercise is good for your heart, will burn calories to help you lose weight and improve your state of mind.

Running produces chemical endorphins in the brain that reduce pain and make you feel good. Endorphins generate a positive feeling in the body similar to morphine. When this chemical reaction occurs, it is referred to as ‘runner’s high’.

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7. It’s a great way to make new friends

One of the most underrated aspects of parkrun is it’s a phenomenal social benefit. It brings together people from all walks of life in a family atmosphere that is showered in positivity.

There will be lots of people out there who are sceptical about taking up running because they are worried about not fitting in, not being good enough, not knowing anyone or being laughed at by accomplished competitors.

None of those things exist at a parkrun. The atmosphere is one of widespread encouragement from front to back. Once you’ve been to a few events you will recognise more and more familiar faces each week.

Perhaps most significantly of all, it proves that you don’t have to go to the pub to be social.

8. It’s for serious runners too

If you are already a half-decent runner and want to improve your performance, parkrun will help you do that. Ultimately you are running against the clock, not others, but nearer the front of the field the competitive edge exists and competing against other ambitious runners will give you the inspiration and drive to exceed your targets.

Running parkrun regularly will make you faster.

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9. You can volunteer

It’s possible to still be involved with parkrun even if you don’t run all the time. The events survive with the help of volunteer marshals performing a range of roles each week. No volunteers, no race.

Volunteering can be very rewarding and allows you to put something back into a brilliant activity that you can take advantage of for free. It’s also an even better way to meet new people.

10. You can inspire others

If you find yourself enjoying parkrunning, it’s only natural that you will want to tell others about it. Sharing your experiences on social media is commonplace.

If you are proud of your achievements it is perfectly normal to talk about it, but what you might not realise is that in doing so you could be reaching out to people that you can’t actually see. 

They might be unfit, undermotivated, unhappy or simply looking for a way to improve their health and wellbeing. Your own achievements can touch other people and inspire them to get out of bed on a Saturday morning too.

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For more information, registration and to find your local course, visit