A parkrun tourism journal
Brewster Scholarship Travel Report – Maria Ordovas-Montanes
“Branching Out” – A parkrun tourism journal
The “branching out” theme of my travel journal stems from (yes, that is an arboreal pun) the parkrun logo. This series of 5k running events happens every Saturday across the year, is free to all participants, and is run by volunteers. The parkrun community represents my favorite event that is in the UK but has yet to become popular in the US. It is delightful to know that several thousand people across the UK have the same idea of a great Saturday morning, and there is a satisfying feeling in knowing that you are part of a bigger movement than just a jog around a local park: at 9am GMT, everyone is starting a 5k run across 600+ locations in the UK. I am an avid listener of parkrun podcasts such as “Free Weekly Timed” and “With Me Now,” which have sparked my desire for parkrun tourism and other challenges. Tourism involves visiting parkruns farther afield than your local parkrun, and there are various challenges such as getting a personal best time, running a milestone number (50, 100, 250, or 500 events), completing a parkrun starting with each letter of the alphabet, and stopwatch bingo which is collecting all the seconds from :00 to :59 as finishing times. Part of the appeal of parkrun tourism is that you are done with the event in the morning and then you have the rest of the day to explore nearby; I have included these post-run activities in my journal as well.
At the time I wrote my Brewster application there were 581 events in the UK and as of October 2019, there are 643 events, which speaks to the growing popularity of these events. Therefore, the possibilities for collecting alphabet letters through parkrun tourism are numerous, so I decided to create a shortlist of unique and picturesque parkruns.
My priority events were Whinlatter Forest and Fountains Abbey, which are included in this travel journal. UK events that are still on my to-do list include Penrose (near Looe Pool of Excalibur fame), Severn Bridge (starts in Wales and crosses into England), and Crosby (scenic seafront). I also engaged in some shorter haul tourism in Abingdon, Marlow, Bicester, and Newbury, which helped me make progress in the alphabet challenge without having to travel very far.
Ready? On your mark… get set… go!
Read or download the whole of Maria’s “Branching Out” journal in this PDF.