Our story

We’re super proud of the fact our volunteer-led, free-for-all 5km runs have been taken up by so many people across so many cultures in so many countries. Of course, it was a bit more low key at the beginning…

Our first ever event was in Bushy park, Teddington, UK, where 13 intrepid parkrunners got together on 2 October 2004. The volunteer team included Paul and Joanne Sinton-Hewitt, Duncan Gaskell, Simon Hedger and Robin Drummond.

It took nearly two years before parkrun spread beyond Bushy. Wimbledon was the chosen venue and we had to prove to ourselves that we could manage more than a single event at a time. This was the start of the ‘cookie cutter’ approach to events that would allow parkrun to expand.

To begin with we collated all results on paper and the finish tokens were washers from the local hardware store! But eventually we ramped up the technology, and so the parkrun registration and barcode result system was born.

Now many thousands of runners are processed, websites updated and emails sent each week. The parkrun community is growing all the time – but it’s all still based on the simple, basic principles formed from the start: weekly, free, 5km, for everyone, forever.

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2004

Bushy Park, 13 runners, 3 volunteers, a stopwatch, some washers from the local hardware store and a piece of paper. Then it was off to the cafe for a natter.

2005

More of the same but with growing numbers – up to 155 at our peak. Plus plenty of sessions with the core team working out what the heck we’d just started and where it should go.

2006

Still a single event but now with up to 378 runners turning up each week – causing a bit of concern to the park authorities! Nonetheless, Jim Desmond applies pressure to start the second event. Number of runs recorded this year: 9,660.

2007

Boom! parkrun goes from a single event to seven in a year. Our ability to run simultaneous events is proved at Wimbledon and quickly evolves to Richmond, Banstead, Leeds and Brighton. Then our first international event is created in Zimbabwe. Number of runs recorded this year: 24,972.

2008

Five more new events along with our first Scottish event in Glasgow and our first Welsh event in Cardiff. 54,428 runners enjoy the experience this year.

2009

We add our first event in Denmark thanks to Jonathan Sydenham, and another 15 parkrun events in total. 112,260 runs recorded this year.

2010

Welcome to Northern Ireland and Matt Shields! The number of runs increases to 242,075 as we add 30 new events.

2011

A big year with 55 new events: Tim Oberg delivers the first event in Australia, Bruce Fordyce does the same in South Africa and Jakub Fedorowicz takes parkrun to Poland. There’s also a special event in the UK army base at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan.

2012

Tom Williams joins parkrun UK as Country Manager. Rick Brauer introduces parkrun to the USA. We achieve 90 new events and a whopping 992,308 runs.

2013

Matt Shields heads up our expansion into the Republic of Ireland while Tom Williams becomes MD for parkrun UK. In the UK we introduce the parkrun Junior series – a weekly 2km event for children – with the help of Chrissie Wellington MBE, four time Ironman Triathlon World Champion.

2014

Welcome to parkrun Russia and their Country Manager Semen Serikov. Weekly runner attendance exceeds 60,000 for the first time.

Global managers

Tim Oberg Australia

Bio

Tim Oberg

Tim is originally from Brisbane but it was during his time in London that he met and fell in love with parkrun. Tim met up with Paul Sinton-Hewitt in 2010 and pitched the idea of taking parkrun down under – several coffees later and the deal was done! Tim now lives on the Gold Coast where the first parkrun Australia event was launched in April 2011, and where his wife Nicci and dog Clarence are also both regular parkrunners.

Paul Sinton-Hewitt Denmark

Bio

Paul Sinton-Hewitt

As well as founder of parkrun, Paul is filling in as the caretaker country manager for Denmark while we find someone to look after all of Scandinavia. parkrun in Denmark was originally started by our good friend Jonathan Sydenham, who can often be seen running at one of the Danish parkruns.

Matt Shields Ireland

Bio

Matt Shields

What Matt has to say about being Country Manager of parkrun Ireland: ‘I get to travel and meet and help wonderful people who want to bring free recreational running to their communities. Maybe it’s not the best job in the world. But for me, an ageing runner, it’s close.’

Lian DeCharmoy New Zeland

Bio

Lian DeCharmoy

Lian and Noel de Charmoy emigrated to New Zealand in 2002, and were then introduced to parkrun in 2009 while visiting Paul Sinton-Hewitt back in London. With Lian running her first parkrun at Bushy Park, and Noel having run many a race with Paul over their years together in South Africa, it was a natural next step to put New Zealand on the parkrun global map! parkrun New Zealand started properly in May 2012 and continues to be a revelation.

Jakub Fedorowicz Poland

Bio

Jakub Fedorowicz

Jakub used to run Newcastle parkrun. But when he moved back to Poland he took the concept with him, set up parkrun in his home town of Gdynia and became our Poland parkrun country manager in 2011. He now oversees the development of parkrun in Poland, including working with sponsors, authorities, and prospective events – and does a smashing job in the process.

Maxim Egorov Russia

Bio

Maxim Egorov

Maxim became acquainted with parkrun reading an article on a sports website at the beginning of 2013. He was fully determined to start parkrun and to develop running community in Russia when he ran his first parkrun in Wormwood scrubs parkrun. He launched the first official parkrun in Moscow on 1 March 2014.

Bruce Fordyce South Africa

Bio

Bruce Fordyce

Born in Hong Kong in 1957, Bruce began serious running at University in South Africa and went on to become one of South Africa’s best known runners. He won the Comrades marathon nine times, the London to Brighton marathon three times, and is still the World record holder for 50 miles (4:50:21). He describes the highlight of his sporting career as the day he received a State President’s Sports award from Nelson Mandela. After accepting an invitation from Paul to run Bushy Park parkrun in 2011 (the day before the London marathon), Bruce knew immediately that South Africans would love the parkrun concept. After a slow start, when 22 runners lined up at the first South African parkrun in Johannesburg’s Delta Park, parkrun rapidly caught on and is now going from strength to strength.

Tom Williams United Kingdom

Bio

Tom Williams

Tom was part of the organising team that started Leeds parkrun way back in October 2007 – our fourth parkrun event and the first outside London. He was lecturing in exercise science at the University of Leeds at the time. In 2010 when he left the University he developed his volunteering role within parkrun to involve UK-wide initiatives. In 2011 he started working part-time for parkrun UK supporting events in the North of England. Then in January 2012 Tom became our full-time Country Manager, and Managing Director of parkrun UK in April 2013.