Saturdays Just Got Better


Saturdays Just Got Better

In November of 2022, I was on my morning walk and I came across a large group of people walking, jogging and running. It wasn’t a race because they didn’t have bibs. But it was clearly an organized group of some kind. It just so happened one of my running acquaintances was in this group and had already finished.  As I stopped to talk to her, I asked what was going on.  She explained that this is parkrun and I should join them! I was intrigued and wanted to learn more. The pic is she and I at my first parkrun.

I did a little research and learned that parkrun started back in 2004 when 13 runners got together on a blustery day in Bushy Park, Teddington, UK to run. It has since grown into a “family” of over 3 million runners in 24 countries around the world! Simply put, it is a weekly 5k run/jog/walk (3.1 miles) in your community. It is free to join and participate. And it is all volunteer based. One of the greatest things about parkrun is every level of activity is accepted and encouraged. From those finishing in less than 20 minutes to those who take an hour. I can’t explain it better than the website -“parkrun is all about inclusiveness and wellbeing. We want as many people as possible to feel part of a real local community brought together by our events, as well as our global parkrun family.”  Knowing the origin and motivation behind it, of course I signed up right away!

Let me give you a little overview of how parkrun is designed. First, you go to to see if there is a parkrun near you (62 in the US and growing).  If there isn’t, you are encouraged to start one in that area.  If there is, you click on the map and sign up for free. You will then get a barcode specific to you that you will bring with you every week. You can leave it as is, laminate it, take a picture on your cell phone, program it into your tracking device (Apple Watch, Garmin, etc). Or if none of those options sound good to you, they even have a box where you can leave it so you don’t have to remember to bring it. I have mine programmed in my Garmin and on file in the box in case there is ever a glitch with the Garmin or I forget to put it on.

Show up Saturday morning at the designated place (8:00 in Spring/Summer, 9:00 Fall/Winter).  They will make some announcements, ask if there are any first timers and visitors, explain the course and start with “1, 2, 3…parkrun!” And off you go to complete the route.  Once you cross the finish line you are given a tag to scan.  That tag has your time on it. You take that, along with your barcode, to the volunteer that is scanning results. YOU DON’T KEEP THE TAG! That is a standing parkrun joke because the tags are used every week.  And people inadvertently take them. So please, don’t take the tag.  Within an hour or so of completing the 5k you will be emailed your results. Results can be important to you or not.  Some people just come out to get moving and be social. They couldn’t care less about what their time is.  Others use parkrun specifically to increase their speed and better their time. There is no right or wrong way of thinking. But I can tell you, I’m competitive. So I went in saying I don’t care about my time…. guess what….I care! You probably already knew that because if I didn’t my brand would be called Walk Meekly, not Walk Fiercely.

You’re done early enough that you still have the rest of your day for whatever you need to do on the weekends. But before you go….another great thing about parkrun is going to a local coffee shop afterward for coffee and comradery. This is something every chapter does. It not only promotes parkrun and builds relationships, but also supports a local business. I highly encourage you to join for coffee. Even if you aren’t a coffee drinker, being engaged in the group is priceless.  Todd, who I met through parkrun, is a tea drinker (no judgement). He brings his tea with him and enjoys everyone’s company.

Speaking of great things, I mentioned volunteers a little bit ago. They are invaluable! They can be identified by the very stylish vests. parkrun wouldn’t, couldn’t happen without the dedicated volunteers that show up every week. When I was sidelined due to injury, I volunteered as well.  It is very rewarding.  The main goals of the volunteers are to make you feel comfortable, help with start and finish, and ensure your safety.  They should be thanked every week for being there and making our experience the best it can be.

Now, let me tell you about my personal experience with parkrun.  I mentioned at the beginning that a “running acquaintance” got me started. Trish is now a very dear friend.  But it didn’t stop with just her.  I have met some amazing people at parkrun, too many to mention.  But I will say that some of them have become my closest friends and Walk Fiercely supporters. You form bonds that you never knew could be so strong in such a niche community of runners and walkers. We grow up with school friends, then maybe college friends, work friends, friends you make from your spouses/relationships, maybe friends you make at church or clubs you have joined. But never, ever have I had a group of friends that have been so welcoming, supportive, encouraging and vital to me.  Everyone is rooting for you to be your best. And the camaraderie is unsurpassed! I can’t say enough about what parkrun and the people have brought to my life. And I know it can do the same for you.

My home parkrun is Charleston, WV. Although it is the capital of WV, it is a small city and small state. We typically have about 60-90 people every Saturday. This week we tied the attendance record with 92! I don’t think I have been to one where there hasn’t been a newcomer and/or a visitor.  I know there are larger cities with hundreds of participants.  But I love the intimacy and friendliness of our group. Anyone new is always met with smiles, welcomes and other kind words. One week we had a visitor from Baltimore, whose group was in the hundreds.  But he was originally from the UK, which is where he started parkrun. He felt so comfortable in our much smaller group that he also joined us for coffee.  His name is Chris and I hope he will visit us again. 

 You can learn more and read testimonials at  Wherever you are, I hope parkrun sees you Saturday!

–Send me a message from the Contact Us page and give me your feedback on parkrun, the blog or the website. I’d love to hear from you. —

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