parkrun USA: A Call for Help

By Russ Jefferys, Chief Executive Officer
— Tuesday 3 November 2015

It seems like every week we’re celebrating a major new milestone at parkrun, and that’s certainly true this week as 11 years and one month after parkrun started, we welcomed our two millionth registered parkrunner. The growing popularity of our events is evident: an incredible 500,000 individuals have signed up globally in the last eight months and our plans and projections for the next eight years see the parkrun family growing to over 20 million registered members, with over one million weekly participants.

There is, of course, a significant amount of work required behind the scenes in order to support our 730 weekly events and 120,000 weekly runners (note that both those figures are growing at around 50% per year). We will continue to ensure parkrun flourishes in all existing locations and are committed to supporting every parkrun location and every parkrunner, however the next 12 months will also see us focusing on developing parkrun in the USA.

There are currently four parkrun events spread across the States, each with a wonderful community atmosphere that embodies everything parkrun stands for and we think it’s time that the rest of the USA heard about the benefits to physical and mental health, inclusivity and social cohesion that parkrun delivers.

Nick Pearson CEO, parkrun Global said:

“It’s an exciting time for parkrun, the popularity and demand for free weekly social running events is overwhelming, particularly in the UK, with communities supporting new event locations every week, and we are beginning to see the staggering benefits that these activity levels, coupled with social engagement, are having on the health of the nation.

“For example, we now have evidence that habitual weekly exercise for under 16’s and over 50’s is transformational, and the significant numbers of inactive people that are being introduced to physical activity through their local parkrun is helping the fight back against our obesity epidemic and other physical activity related issues.*

“As the UK’s most successful provider of free physical activity, and coupled with the fact our model is a social model, we feel the time is now right to export this great concept properly to the USA. We believe the impacts can be even more dramatic where the challenges around public health and fitness are arguably even larger than here in the UK.

“However, to be successful in the US, we will need support. At times, in the early years of parkrun in the UK, Paul Sinton-Hewitt (our founder) found it challenging getting permission to operate in parks, and had to battle against scepticism as to the potential of his idea. We believe therefore that to effectively support growth in the USA we must to speak to key influencers who are open to the concept of bringing parkrun to the States and seeing the benefits that would bring.”

Do you know someone influential in the California Government, or City and County of San Francisco who might be willing to meet a parkrun delegation between the 18th and 22nd November?

If so please get in touch by emailing

Thanks for being a part of the parkrun family: the local, accessible, biggest running event in the world.

* According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) insufficient physical activity is 1 of the 10 leading risk factors for death worldwide and is a key risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes. Further, they suggest that globally 1 in 4 adults is not active enough and state that WHO Member States have agreed to reduce insufficient physical activity by 10% by 2025. The WHO also state that “what is now becoming clear is that current economic and fiscal strategies for growth may also be undermining family and community relationships: economic growth at the cost of social recession.” This means that at the heart of questions concerning ‘mental health impact’ is the need to protect or recreate opportunities for communities to remain or become connected.

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