What they say about parkrun

LONDON (Reuters) - What people have said about parkrun, which celebrates its 10th anniversary on Oct. 4. Hugh Brasher, race director of the London Marathon, which has direct links with parkrun:

"We support parkrun because it is about the grass roots of running, it is about encouraging people to start running and also to be more competitive with their running.

"I was involved via (sports store and parkrun sponsor) Sweatshop and I'm a director of parkrun now.

"From the start clubs were wary of it. People now realise that even if they are slow they probably won't be last, and even if they are, they are supported.

"It is about the atmosphere, the volunteers, the way the directors run their events.

"From a London Marathon point of view one of our founding pillars in 1981 was to improve British endurance running and marathon running and that worked for the first 10 years.

"What you have to do now is widen the base again and parkrun is a lovely piece of it in a sense that it encourages more people in, kids, and that's why we are involved."

Chrissie Wellington, four times world Ironman triathlon champion and mentor of junior parkrun:

"It's about bringing adults and children of all ages, backgrounds and abilities together. It doesn’t matter if they have run for 50 years or five minutes. The beauty of parkrun is in the building of friendships and the sense of community. The events provide an opportunity to learn from other people, to find support and encouragement and to provide that support and encouragement to others."

David Moorcroft, former 5,000 metres world record holder and former chief executive of UK athletics:

"Parkrun is the best experience I have ever had of what it feels like to be in a community of runners… on that morning it was incredible to experience a group of people of all ages and abilities united, not just by running, but being part of a really special community.

"There was such a warmth and energy. There was humour, friendship, great cakes! - a chemistry that I am struggling to explain but absolutely felt. I can honestly say that the two most powerful experiences I have had in sport in the past year or so were London 2012 Olympics and the Belfast Waterworks parkrun."

Runners World magazine's citation after naming parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt one of its "Heroes of Running":

"A man who truly loves running and the running community, Paul Sinton-Hewitt's aim was simple: he wanted to create an easy-to-run event that allowed anyone to come and race whenever it suited them. "Make it simple, make it free," was his aim. He didn't half pull it off."

Conclusion of University of Loughborough study of health benefits of parkrun:

"The evidence suggests that parkrun is attractive to non-runners; with women, older adults and overweight people well represented. Fitness improvements were observed and there were many positive perceived benefits, suggesting parkrun may be an effective community-based intervention for improving public health."

John Hirst, email to parkrun.com website:

"I obtained a Great North Run place and having never completed an organised running event since I left school in 1971 I decided that I'd better do some training. After a few gentle jogs a friend suggested that I go along to parkrun to experience running with other people so I went along to my local Tees Barrage parkrun. Everyone there was friendly and encouraging and I slowly improved my times.

"Last Sunday I completed my first ever half marathon in two hours 21 minutes, an achievement I daren’t dream about in February. Thanks to all the parkrunners and volunteers at Tees Barrage parkrun, I'm now a regular runner and looking forward to my 50 Club t-shirt."

(Refile of story issued Sept. 26 fixing first name of Hugh Brasher (from Chris) in second paragraph).

(Compiled by Mitch Phillips; editing by Clare Lovell)

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