In many cultures the number 13 has sinister portents and many superstitions surround the first compound number in English language. However, for parkrunners everywhere there is much to celebrate as it was exactly 13 years ago this weekend that 13 runners took part in the inaugural Bushy Park Time Trial over 5k and the global phenomenon of parkrun was born.
Among those early pioneers was Karen Weir (pictured) who was tenth in 24:56 on 2 October 2004 and improved to 22:08 at Bushy and a parkrun PB of 21:12 at Crane. This is how Karen recalls her parkrun debut: “My memory is that it was fairly unremarkable if I’m honest, or at least it seemed so at the time. It was a dry, mild day in October and I hadn’t been running for all that long. I’d never done a timed 5k, other than on a treadmill, I didn’t know many of the other people and first and foremost I was there to support the volunteers who were friends of mine. One memory that does stand out is having my name and position written down at the finish. How things have changed since that first parkrun (or Bushy Park Time Trial) in 2004”!
Like so many others since, Karen was bitten by the parkrun bug and became a regular runner and volunteer. She became the Event Director at Richmond in 2007, met her husband there and ran with him on the morning of their wedding day in 2008. Karen is now a parkrun Ambassador for South Yorkshire, looking after six parkruns in the Sheffield area.
Things have certainly moved forward since that inaugural run at Bushy. Last Saturday (30 September) was Bushy's 700th run and there were 1,229 finishers. Imagine writing all those names and times down to get a result! Computerised systems have replaced pen, paper and numbered washers and the results system is way ahead of most paid for events. Organisers are now asking for parkrunners from Aberdeen to Żary in Poland to post an image from every event in the world to help celebrate as parkrun enters its teenage years.
As Karen Weir says: “It doesn’t matter when or where your parkrun journey began, or even if it’s yet to start. The best journeys aren’t those that simply involve travelling from A to B – they’re the ones where the people you meet, the friendships you forge, the experiences you have and the milestones you achieve along the way become the memories that stand out the most. That’s what parkrun has been for me”.
runABC wishes parkrun a happy birthday and invites everyone to help set a parkrun participation record this weekend.
Find your local parkrun here
Image courtesy parkrun UK