Over the last 12 years parkrun has grown from a small time-trial in Bushy Park, with just 13 participants, to the world’s largest running movement, spanning 1,000+ events across 14 countries. Next month we will register our three-millionth unique parkrunner.
Ever since the beginning we’ve prided ourselves in breaking down barriers to participation and welcoming people no matter what their background or ability. Once we opened our second event location, in early 2007, we became an organisation that embraced change and much of our success has been thanks to making the right decisions around what to keep the same, what to change, and what to remove. Over the last couple of years we’ve increasingly felt that our website, despite being loved by those who love it, has become a barrier to people who are perhaps less confident and more in need of getting involved. So, I’m pleased to let you know that behind the scenes we’ve been developing, from scratch, an entirely new website that we feel will more appropriately support participants all the way from pre-registration right through to joining one, many, or all of our milestone clubs. At this stage we aren’t committing to a date for that to go live, but we expect it to be in the first half of 2017.
Perhaps the biggest change we’ve been through over the years has been from being a running event focused on finish times, to a community-led social event that uses running as a hook to bring people together and positively impact their lives. It’s been an unexpected and humbling journey, and one that hasn’t seen the parkrun ethos change, rather we’ve come to understand what it really is. And as part of that process we’ve been looking at every aspect of our current website and making decisions around what to keep, what to change, and what to remove.
I’d like to take this opportunity, therefore, to let you know that the points league will be coming to an end, across the world, on the final weekend of February 2017. Although I realise this will be disappointing to some of you, it has remained as the one big thing that compromises our participation-focused ethos and rewards a type of engagement that is no longer what we are primarily about. Ultimately it recognises a very small percentage of people, at the faster end of the field. We have looked at a number of options for re-configuring the points league to make it more accessible, engaging, and in-line with our ethos. But every option simply increased complexity and moved us further away from one of our key operating principles; keep it simple.
We recently launched parkrun Canada and parkrun Sweden without the points league, which has gone well, Australia have already announced they will be stopping theirs, and recently Bushy parkrun, the home of parkrun and with 1,000+ weekly participants, stopped using their points league for the same reasons we present above. None of those changes have resulted in any significant level of negative feedback.
For all events that wish to continue using the points league until February, the final scoring Saturday will be the 25th of February 2017 and the leagues will be available to view until Friday the 3rd of March 2017. After that they will be removed from the current website and not replaced on the new website later in the year.
Thanks as always for everything you do to make parkrun the most wonderful global family.
Chief Operating Officer