Early on Saturday mornings if my not so trusty alarm clock manages to raise me from my slumbers you’ll find me moving my knobbly knees in two big loops around one of Birmingham’s finest green spaces (link beyond the bullring cannonhill park). Parkrun is a completely free 5 kilometre, officially timed race for ALL levels of abilities that happens in parks in 7 different countries! No matter how much running experience you have, all are welcome. Rain or shine there are always upwards of 70 people from all corners of Birmingham doing the weekly run, you’ll find runners doing the 5k in times from 17 minutes and up to 40. There are some people doing it in speedy lyrca and even a father who does the 5k with a pram and his spawn (the pair of them invariably take me over a few corners before the finish). Waking up at 8 to go for a run isn’t everyone Idea of a relaxing weekend, but it really does refresh you for the rest of the day and you can always lie in on Sunday.
Each Parkrun event is run entirely by volunteers who give their time freely to set up each event, time the runners, process the results and clear away afterwards. To assist the volunteers, Parkrun HQ provides the volunteers with computer equipment, timing devices, bar-code readers, signs and the web hosting of the results.
To keep the whole event free there is a small element of corporate sponsorship, but this is kept to a quick shout-out at the start or the occasional freebie. On the whole the only time you think about companies whilst on Parkrun is the smugness you get when jogging past the British Military Fitness people and being certain that you are getting a better, freer and less shouty workout than them.
If you arrive in time for the speech at the beginning (around 8.55) you’ll see people being congratulated and cheered on for exceptional volunteering and for their running achievements. The rules and the route are clearly explained for newcomers of which there are always a number and then everyone walks down to the start of the run. The atmosphere is always positive and non competitive, there is never any pressure and if you aren’t feeling it you can just stop running and your time won’t even be recorded or show up on your account. It is easy to strike up a conversation after the run with people in the queue to get your time – or if you have breath to spare on the run. During first year I found going on Parkrun every week gave me one way of escaping from what becomes the monotonous bubble of The Vale/ University/ Broad Street and being around people who are actually from Birmingham. It would be great to see more students from the University interacting with locals and volunteering or running Parkrun is a prime way in which to do so.
Below are the details for the Freshers Parkrun event James Hughes the Vice President of Sports and I are organising for after freshers fortnight. If you aren’t a fresher you are certainly welcome to come along as well. Parkrun happens every week so even if you can’t make the 6th do register yourself, print out the barcodes and come along another week when you are free. Additionally check the national website to see if your local city has a Parkrun, most do and its great fun trying to force your family along on a weekend run.
Cannon Hill Parkrun Freshers’ Detox’
Date: 6th October
Meeting points/venues: Entrance to University train station (8am), Entrance to Elgar Court (8.15am), Tennis Courts entrance (8.15am) and Victoria Halls entrance.
There will be a marshal in a fluorescent jacket at each meeting point to guide you down to Cannon Hill Park
Simply sign up online via http://www.parkrun.org.uk/cannon-hill/home, print off the barcode that will be emailed to you and turn up at your chosen meeting point