If you’re looking for motivation to lace up and go running, the new book from parkrun could be just the kick up the ass you need. The coffee table tome from the guys behind the hugely popular, free, weekly 5k runs, contains photos of parkrunners from across the globe alongside inspirational stories about how running has changed their life.
We chatted to parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt and head of marketing Russ Jeffreys to find out more. Then we put our trainers on and went for a run.
The entire parkrun community was invited to submit their photos
So what was the idea behind the 'parkrun: A Celebration' book?
RUSS JEFFREYS: "A year ago two chaps called Paul Duke and Paul Warrington approached me with the idea of creating a parkrun coffee table photo book.
"Over the years we’ve seen some amazing photography from parkrun events so we know that parkrunners love to share photos and discover new and distant parkrun events. It made sense that a celebratory photo book would be a sought-after item, and it tied in nicely with the 10th anniversary of parkrun last October."
The book features parkrun stories and images from around the world. How did you go about gathering them?
RUSS: "The entire parkrun community was invited to submit their photos. The creative team, led by the two Pauls, then spent a lot of time choosing and curating the images that would make it in to the book. Some of the people in the photos were interviewed as well, so their stories could go alongside their photos."
Do you have a favourite image?
PAUL SINTON-HEWITT: "They’re all brilliant! The interviews are wonderful too – although we knew they would be. Each week we hear hundreds of stories from people who say their life has been are changed for the better through their involvement with parkrun."
In February, parkrun registered its 1.5-millionth runner. Did you guys ever imagine it would become a phenomenon on this scale?
PAUL: "We’ve been anticipating the 1.5 millionth registered runner for some time now. And this week we had more than 100,000 people take part for the first time, which is fantastic."
How fanatical are parkrun fans? Has anyone had their barcode tattooed on themselves yet?
RUSS: "I’m not sure about having their barcode tattooed but we do know a few people who have a tattoo of the parkrun tree."
Be warned: parkrun could easily change your life
What's next for parkrun?
RUSS: "We’ll continue to grow. That means new events and new parkrunners in existing territories, and hopefully we’ll start up in several new countries too. But above all, we won’t really change at all. We’ll continue to deliver free, timed, weekly 5k parkrun and 2k junior parkrun events to every community that wants one."
If someone's reading this and umm-ing and ahh-ing about signing up, how would you sell parkrun to them?
RUSS: "You have absolutely nothing to lose. parkrun events are welcoming, friendly, supportive and caring. Whether you are a super-speedy runner or a first timer wanting to walk the 5k, everyone is welcome and treated exactly the same. Be warned though: parkrun could easily change you life!"