Participation and interest appears to be on the rise for parkruns in the Portsmouth area and around the globe

It’s been another year of success for the parkrun events in the Portsmouth and surrounding area.

Friday, 3rd January 2020, 10:23 am
Updated Friday, 3rd January 2020, 11:29 am
A new course attendance record was set in the Lee-on-the-Solent New Year's Day parkrun. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (010120-4)

And that trend shows no sign of stopping with a number of courses setting new best attendance records to mark the start of a new decade.

The special New Year’s Day events that were held at Lee-on-the-Solent (987), Fareham (484) and Whiteley (460) all saw previous highest turnout numbers broken.

Welcoming in 2020, Lee’s old best of 777 finishers was smashed by more than 200 runners.

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Volunteers at the New Year's Day Lee-on-the-Solent parkrun. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (010120-5)

When you take into account the New Year’s Day events held at both Havant (278) and Southsea (431) as well, it tallied a total of 2,640 over five events in the Portsmouth and surrounding area.

A similar trend of growth was also followed across the country and beyond in 2019 as a whole.

In total, 374 new parkruns were introduced which took the total across the globe to a staggering 2,078.

On the weekend of January 12 and 13 2019, a record 371,184 took part.

Runners set off in the New Year's Day Lee-on-the-Solent parkrun. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (010120-8)

That number took in to account all parkrun entrants, along with the volunteers who also come out in force to make the events possible.

Last July, the six millionth person to register for parkrun was recorded worldwide.

The first prison-based parkrun was held in November 2017. Two years on, 30 events now regularly take place in in prisons, young offenders institutes and correctional facilities around the world.

In the UK, more than 4,000 people have completed one of those events.

2019 saw the first parkrun held at a women’s prison – at the Wandoo Rehabilitation centre in Australia. The UK soon followed, with the launch of Downview parkrun in Surrey.

As part of the 15th anniversary of parkrun last October – the first UK event took place at Bushy Park, Richmond, in 2004 – a number of survey findings from across the UK were revealed.

This showed that as many as 90 per cent of runners felt a sense of personal achievement after participating in events across the country.

But it’s not just those who enter the parkruns who seem to be reaping a benefit.

Further survey findings showed that 84 per cent of volunteers had improved happiness for their involvement in events.

Parkrun founded Paul Sinton-Hewitt said: ‘The results confirmed some long-held beliefs for us: that participating at parkrun is fundamentally good for our physical and mental health.

‘But it also revealed that the biggest benefits were experienced by those who volunteered, as well as walked or ran.’

And the hope is the interest will continue to grow across the Portsmouth and surrounding areas as we enter a new decade.