On 4th June our partner the Sport and Recreation Alliance will be hosting the Sports Summit 2015 and ahead of the event, keynote speaker Chrissie Wellington MBE, triathlete and four-time Ironman Champion, talks about her role as Head of Participation for parkrun. She also shares a sneak preview into the Sport Summit's theme of being Fit for the Future, asking how the sector can ensure it is ready for changes in tech, in funding, in social habits and other areas.
Chrissie Wellington MBE
My name is Chrissie Wellington and I’m best known for doing a little bit of ironman triathlon which basically means I warmed up with a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike ride before the all-important task of running a marathon. I retired from professional sport in 2012 but having previously worked in International Development I’m passionate about maximising opportunities to increase physical activity for all. I have the honour of working for parkrun as their Head of Participation. parkrun is a not-for-profit organisation founded by Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE, which delivers two types of running events: 5k parkruns and 2k junior parkruns. We are also a very proud member of the Alliance! The 5k runs take place weekly at 9am (9:30am in Scotland and Northern Ireland) on a Saturday in areas of open space, such as parks, sports grounds and recreation fields. parkrun events are timed runs, not races. Each participant has a unique barcode (you register online before your first run) which is scanned along with a finish token given at the finish line, and finishers get sent their result via text or email later the same day. As of the end of April, there are 325 5k events in the UK with 72,000 weekly participants supported by approximately 6000 volunteers.
The events are simple to organise and are managed by a local volunteer team, which includes people of all ages – including children, which leads me nicely onto our junior parkruns. Junior parkruns are timed, 2k events specifically for 4 to 14 year olds, most of them held weekly on a Sunday (children can take part in the 5k runs too). Wristbands are awarded as an incentive to junior parkrun participants: a blue wristband for a cumulative ‘Half Marathon’ (11 junior parkruns), a green 'Marathon' band for 42 cumulative kilometres and an orange 'Ultra' band for those who have clocked up 100k.
At the time of writing there are 42 junior events throughout the UK but this number is growing all the time. parkruns are open to absolutely everyone – regardless of ability, age or background - and are ideal for people who have never tried running before. They don’t require any specialist equipment or even an ability to run, you can walk if you want to! And the best thing of all – they are completely FREE to take part in! Many young people also choose to volunteer at the events, and there is a range of roles to suit everybody. No previous experience is required, just enthusiasm, energy and a big smile! The full list of 5k and 2k events is here: www.parkrun.org.uk/events.
It is an honour to have been invited to deliver a keynote speech at the Sport and Recreation Alliance Sports Summit 2015 on behalf of parkrun. This platform is a valuable opportunity to share our lessons about successful local delivery of physical activity, identifying some of the barriers faced, and our strategies for overcoming these, as well as developing meaningful partnerships and the importance of research and an insight-based approach.
The Summit promises to be a fascinating, entertaining and informative event and I, and parkrun, truly look forward to being part of it!
Click here to join Chrissie and other sports industry leaders by booking your place at the Sports Summit 2015 now.