I regularly take part in parkrun. Every Saturday at 9am across England (and the world), people gather together to run, jog or walk 5km at an organised weekly, FREE, parkrun, which is entirely reliant on volunteers.
Initially I took part to run and get fitter, but the more I attended, the more I have engaged with other aspects of parkrun which have enhanced my wellbeing.
I have made many friends at parkrun, so connecting with people is now a big driver for me, seeing friends and also encouraging others who are new. I run a jogging group as well, so always look out for members of the group and cheer them on.
The best thing about parkrun is that when you are injured, you can still take part. As it is run entirely by volunteers, there are always roles to fill every week, which enable the event to take place.
The volunteering role I enjoy the most is time-keeping, it requires a lot of concentration and is great as you see every participant finish, from the first to the last. Giving back to parkrun is rewarding as you see others progressing and doing well, and you are also part of a team who take their role in making parkrun happen, really seriously, without them, there would be no event.
Parkrun is something I look forward to most weekends, I feel part of a community that has no barriers. Everyone is welcome, there are babies being pushed around in buggies and there are runners in their 80s, runners with dogs, children, teenagers, walkers, workplaces, blind runners, wheelchair racers, you name it, parkrun welcomes it.
Every week, participants are celebrated for achieving milestones, 50, 100, 250 runs or 25 volunteering opportunities for example. Visiting runners are celebrated from other parts of the UK/world and anyone achieving a personal best time or milestone gets to ring a bell in celebration!
When I run, I feel mentally and physically good afterwards and when I volunteer I feel part of a team, a sense of belonging.
The running and volunteering helps my mental health but the biggest part of this for me is just being part of a community who support each and every other person. Parkrun can be prescribed by GPs. If I was a doctor, I’d prescribe it to everyone.