Parkrun craze hits Armidale this weekend

A GROWING global running movement is coming to Armidale, with the Australian record-holder almost certain to take part in this weekend’s local launch.

On Saturday, Armidale will become the latest city, and highest in Australia, swept up by the worldwide parkrun craze – a free five-kilometre timed run every Saturday morning by volunteers and open to anyone.

Armidale Parkrun will be the 80th parkrun in Australia, with Australian record-holder  Scott Westaway, also a former UNE student, taking part.

With  new events planned each month, the growth for parkrun has no boundaries.

 Globally, there are more than 350 parkrun events worldwide, with over 830,000 registered members.

Armidale event organiser Dale Murray said runners and walkers of all ages and fitness levels can compete in the 5km timed course, and is confident more will get on board as word spreads throughout the community.

“Runners of all ages and abilities can come down to SportUNE in the grounds of the University of New England and participate in their first parkrun event,”  Murray said.

“I’m excited to be a part of it and I know this weekly event will continue to grow because it offers the local community the chance to come together on a regular basis and get physically active in a safe and friendly social environment.”

Founded by Briton Paul Sinton-Hewitt, parkrun began its journey in 2004 with just 13 runners in a suburban area of London called Teddington.

 The response was overwhelming and what started as a bunch of mates running a weekly 5km timed running event quickly grew into something much bigger. 

Australian Tim Oberg was based in London for nine years and was immediately captivated by the emergence of parkrun. 

He sought out and met with Sinton-Hewitt to pitch  the idea of taking parkrun ‘“down under” and he hasn’t looked back since.

“I knew parkrun had potential from the outset because it offers the local community, male or female, young or old, the chance to come together on a regular basis and get physically active in a safe and friendly social environment,” Oberg said.

“Our growth over the last 12 months has been phenomenal, with over 115,000 people now registered parkrunners in Australia.”

The Armidale parkrun is free to enter and will be launched 8am this Saturday and continue every Saturday after.

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