parkrun Offers Fitness and Friendship to All

It’s that time of year again: New Year’s Resolution season. If your resolution involves exercise and you’re already in need of motivation to keep that goal, parkrun may be for you.

What it is: parkrun is an international organization with the goal to get people into parks and public spaces for a weekly, free, timed 5K run/walk. Started in the UK in 2004, there are now more than 2,000 events across 22 countries, with 8 million registered users. The local iteration of parkrun takes place at Osborn MetroPark, 3910 E. Perkins Ave., at 9 a.m. Saturdays. 

parkrun provides a known day, time and location for people to get together, socialize, and participate in a community event, says Event Director Martyn Drabik-Hamshare. Drabik-Hamshare and his wife, Morgan, completed their first parkrun when they lived in South Africa in 2015.

Why it’s important: “It has also allowed our community members (including myself) to meet new people from the area,” says Drabik-Hamshare. “When we moved to Erie County a few years ago, we often traveled to Mansfield parkrun, which was our closest event (at the time), but we had ambitions to bring parkrun to the local community.”

How to get involved: After completing a one-time registration that provides participants with a unique barcode that can be used at other parkruns, people can track their parkrun data online. Participants can earn milestones, which gives them access to certain official merchandise. Even if people don’t want to run or walk, they can get involved by volunteering at an event. The same milestones are available for volunteering at a certain number of events. Participants of all ages and ability levels are welcomed, and after each event, people are encouraged to meet at Vine & Olive for a post-event coffee.

“Whether a 5K takes a person 20 minutes or 1 hour 20 minutes, that's absolutely fine,” says Drabik-Hamshare. “In fact, nobody will ever finish last, as one of the volunteer roles is 'Tail Walker' - a role where the volunteer is committed to being the last person to cross the finish line.”

Since starting parkrun at Osborn in mid-July, the Erie County event has occurred 21 times with 114 finishers and 56 volunteers. Each event is managed by volunteers who help with course marshaling, timekeeping and scanning unique barcodes, among other roles. 

“Although we have our local community, anyone who joins parkrun has also joined a global community,” says Drabik-Hamshare. “Our parkrun has welcomed several parkrunners from other events across the country, and even the world. Our first event in July had visitors from Cleveland, Mansfield, Michigan, Chicago, and Washington DC. And since then, we've even had parkrun tourists from England and Australia.”

To get involved in parkrun, register at parkrun.us/register, and find information about the local event at www.parkrun.us/osbornmetropark. Osborn MetroPark parkrun also can be found on Facebook and Instagram, or email the group at [email protected].