Durham Parkrun: fun and free fitness right on your doorstep

Deputy Sports Editor

With track records of success and many dedicated, hard-working athletes part of the student body, organised sport at Durham University can seem intimidating to those not already in the fold.

Furthermore, friction between the University, its students, and the local community can also lead to student anxiety about sporting opportunities outside not offered at Maiden Castle.

It is open to anyone and accessible to all abilities

One of the many schemes and groups which do great work to reduce this university-community uneasiness is the Durham Parkrun, a volunteer-led running group.

This academic year, Palatinate Sport has sought to highlight the wealth of sporting success and opportunity available at the University and in Durham itself.

So we sat down with co-event directors Antony and Clare Clish to learn more about Parkrun, and what it has to offer the student body.

What is Durham Parkrun?

“Durham Parkrun is a free 5km timed run which takes place at 9 a.m. every Saturday from the Graham Sports Centre, Maiden Castle. It is open to everyone and accessible to people of all abilities.”

How long has Parkrun been running (pardon the pun)?

“Durham Parkrun has been running since August 2011 when one hundred and fifty-seven runners took part. We have seen our numbers grow consistently over the time we have been operating and the record attendance is currently six hundred and eight participants.

Who can get involved?

“Our focus is on increasing participation in exercise and as such we have been pleased to see not only fast runners complete the course but also those who jog, walk, or run and walk.”

It’s a good place to test yourself against other runners

Who can get involved?

“Our focus is on increasing participation in exercise and as such we have been pleased to see not only fast runners complete the course but also those who jog, walk, or run and walk.

Anyone can participate in the event, from more active individuals looking to achieve a personal best to those who simply want to get more exercise by walking or jogging the distance.

On the last Saturday of each month, we hold paced runs with pacers covering twenty, twenty-two, twenty-five, twenty-seven, thirty, and thirty-five minutes, and this is a great way to challenge yourself.

The volunteering side of things is just as welcoming, too. Anyone can volunteer, the roles are really easy and full training is given.

Our volunteers marshal the route, keep time, give out finishing tokens, scan barcodes and generally make sure that the event runs smoothly.”

Why should Durham University students come along?

“Participating in Parkrun is completely free and is an excellent way to increase your level of activity. Many other students and members of the local community regularly run with us and are all really friendly so it’s a great place to meet new people and exercise at the same time.

Many of the local running clubs have members who run with us so it’s a good place to make contact with and test yourself against other runners if that’s what you’d like to do.

We also have around thirty volunteers every week so there are opportunities for students to become more involved in the running of the event and gain some valuable employability skills by doing so.”

What are the aims of Durham Parkrun for the future?

“We simply aim to enable as many people as possible to enjoy running, walking or volunteering with us.”

How can I get involved?

“If you register at www.parkrun.org.uk/register then all you need to do is print off a copy of your barcode and turn up at 9 a.m. on Saturdays.

Once the event is over, results are processed and you’ll receive a text and an email with your time. Once you have completed fifty runs you can claim a free t-shirt and then another when you do one-hundred, two-hundred and fifty and five-hundred.“

“If you’d like to volunteer, then email us at durhamoffice@ parkrun.com to let us know when you’d like to volunteer and which role you’d like to do.

Our students are a very important part of the Parkrun community

Our volunteering rosters can be found at http://www.parkrun. org.uk/durham/futureroster/. Similar to our runners, volunteers can claim a free t-shirt after they have volunteered for twenty-five runs. Of course, many runners also volunteer from time to time too.

Durham Parkrun is a community event and as our students are a very important part of that community we’d very much like to encourage you to come along to either run, walk or volunteer with us.”

So if you’re looking for a fun way to get some exercise on a Saturday morning, and maybe meet some new people, look no further.

Photograph: Graham Hogg via Geograph 

One thought on “Durham Parkrun: fun and free fitness right on your doorstep

  • The picture is Riverside Parkrun in Chester-le-Street. Always a good event.


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