St Andrews Parkrun rolls out red carpet for first-timers

St Andrews Parkrun.
St Andrews Parkrun.

North east Fife’s weekly Parkrun is on its marks for a new initiative to welcome first-timers.

While the Parkrun movement is renowned for its inclusiveness, the local group, which meets every Saturday morning in Craigtoun Park, thinks some people are still nervous about joining in and have the idea that it is a gathering for serious runners only.

To counter this, St Andrews Parkrun is planning to have special ‘first-timers’ events.

“There are a lot of folk who are nervous about coming along on their own or have heard about it and are not sure what it’s all about,” said event director Gary Ovenstone.

The first special event is this Saturday, when there will be a welcome session before the run to give background about the Parkrun movement, what is involved at Craigtoun and what to expect as they go round the route.

“Whether they want to run, jog, walk or just find out more, this is the time to come along,” added Gary.

The special initiative was prompted by research being carried out - with St Andrews one of three Parkruns selected for study - to look at how Parkrun could reach out to groups of non-runners and others and encourage people to embark on a healthier lifestyle.

“We had four or five meetings with St Andrews University researchers to discuss it and the idea of making it easier for people to come along came out of that,” said Gary.

Parkrun is the collective name for five km running events, all organised by volunteers, that take place every Saturday morning in several countries - there are now nearly 350 in the UK. They are timed events but not races.

It started in 2004 from a single time trial event, which gradually grew into a small collection of gatherings called the UK Time Trials and then into Parkrun in 2010.

There are a lot of folk who are nervous about coming along on their own or have heard about it and are not sure what it’s all about.

Gary Ovenstone.

All are free and participants only have to register online for their unique personal barcode which they then use when taking part in any Parkrun, anywhere in the world.

For more information see www.parkrun.org.uk/standrews or St Andrews Parkrun on Facebook.