C25k, Exercise, Running

My Parkrun experience (it didn’t end well).


Many thousands of people take part in, and love, Parkrun each week – sadly, I wasn’t one of them.

I was hoping to write a post about what an inspiring experience I’d had but, actually, it was the opposite. I figured if I was willing to publish a positive story I should also be honest and post a negative one too.

So, here it is.

I will say that this was one event, I was hormonal (tmi?) and it was hot so maybe at a different run, on a different weekend I would have loved it. Who can say?



My running buddy and I started our C25K journey last October and have been consistently running that length (and further) since January. We had been thinking about signing up for Parkrun for months and when we finally took the plunge we were very excited.

It didn’t start well.

We thought we had left plenty of time to get to to the park but the run started in a completely different place to where we expected (we had checked the website for the route but obviously misunderstood), which meant we had to jog to get there. Undeterred, we considered it a good warm up.

We were there about a minute before everyone set off and just joined the back, clutching our codes, hoping we didn’t need to check in or let anyone know we were new.

And we’re off.

It was nice, initially, running as part of a group. There were even people cheering us on (including Mark and Freya) at different points and I know we were running a bit faster than usual as a result, which was great.

There were runners of all different ages and abilities, even people jogging with buggies, and it felt like we were in it together, exactly as I had imagined.

Then came a noise.

It was like the thunder of a thousand hooves, sort of.

Suddenly we were being shouted at to move and “get out of the way” as the front-runners, clearly racing, lapped us for the first time.

It felt intimidating to me as they brushed past us (one of the other slower runners said that we were supposed to keep left but someone else shouted at us to move right). Also, and this is probably more about me and my competitive instinct, it was really demotivating to be lapped so quickly. If I had realised that people were going for Mo Farah times (the winner finished in something like 17 minutes) I would never have entered but it’s called park RUN, not park RACE and I thought it would be like-minded fun runners ambling around together.

Obviously I know someone has to be first but I expected it to be less competitive, which probably sounds ridiculous. I figured RUNNER runners would go to a club or compete in actual races.

And I’m afraid, at roughly 3k, I stopped.

My running buddy carried on and finished (very proud of her) but I knew I was done. I waited with Mark and Freya, cheering her home.

It wasn’t the distance (we’ve even run that route several times since and I’ve been fine) or the pace (my running buddy finished a couple of minutes above our PB), I just really disliked the atmosphere. I’ve been told that other Parkruns are friendlier but I just don’t think I’m cut out for group running.

For now, my running buddy and I will carry on happily plodding around the park at dawn. You can’t really fault the view.


Are you a fan of Parkrun? Have you had a better experience? 



18 thoughts on “My Parkrun experience (it didn’t end well).”

  1. Tara, we all have negative experiences in this life and I welcome hearing about reality. It’s too bad the Parkrun didn’t work out for you. In the states we have Marathons and they are highly competitive. One run I’ve heard of lately is the Bubble run, where you run a course and bubbles are everywhere, I think it’s all in fun without competition. Thank you for sharing your experience. 😎


    1. Thank you for your support, as always 🙂 I didn’t want to seem like a Debbie Downer or discourage anyone else from giving it a go but it really wasn’t what I was expecting. The bubbles one sounds right up my street 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s awful! We have one nearby ( never been, nobody should see me run!) and I know many people who take their children along. If it’s that kind of atmosphere, what kind of example is it setting? I’m all for competition but people surely don’t need to be so… intense!


  3. They can’t help being grumpy, Tara. They’re running fast, one of the most unpleasant experience for average people who aren’t Usain Bolt and can do it easily. They probably haven’t eaten anything resembling normal food in some time as well. Plod along, dear. “Running” your way sounds way better. ~Tara


  4. That’s such a shame Tara but I certainly don’t blame you for stopping. I’d probably do the same to be fair! A colleague in work does one every Saturday and for the most part enjoys them. I’m glad it hasn’t stopped you and your buddy continuing though x


  5. Oh boy! I’m sure you know me well enough to imagine such an event sounds like a whole lot of trauma and I’m sorry to read your experience reflected that. The characters in your tale remind me of a wonderful blog I used to read (I sadly think it’s stopped now 😕). I’ll try and dig out a link as I think the writer had a wonderful perspective of the running scene …


  6. Hello random stranger, I found your post by searching for parkrun related posts on WordPress.

    It really is a shame that you didn’t enjoy your parkrun experience as there is so much more to it than just running. I’m a massive convert to parkrun, in fact it’s pretty much taken over my weekend life and most my blogs are about it. I’ve been taking part since September last year and have run 51 times (in 23 different locations) and volunteered 24 times, you could say I’m kinda hooked. I’ve met so many wonderful and inspirational people through parkrun, it really has been such a positive influence in my life.

    There are people that take it very seriously, a few weeks back in Southampton I was lapped by a young lad who got the course record running the 5k in 14:58!! It was inspiring to see him lap me so gracefully and effortlessly, it certainly didn’t put me off completing my run, quite the opposite in fact. There were people that say that finished the course in close to an hour, they were equally inspiring and every finisher is treated the same regardless of speed, in fact I think the finishers at the back of the pack probably receive more praise and encouragement than those who place higher. It’s lovely to see the faster runners back on course after their runs encouraging and motivating others to finish.

    Out of interest where did you run? I missed that.



    1. Hah, hello fellow random stranger. I’m glad you found me 🙂 The way you describe ParkRun is exactly how I thought it would be. I’ve spoken to other people since and apparently the one I went to (Eaton Park in Norwich) is not as friendly as some (actually one of the stewards told me that too). I’ve been put off trying another for now but maybe one day. Thank you for putting a different version across.


  7. I stumbled across your blog through a google search of bad Parkrun experiences. Before I go any further, I have a conflict of interest. I am a regular first finisher at my local parkrun with a best time of 16:16, so runners like myself are the subject of this blog post. Having said that I don’t take offence at all and am very sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy your first parkrun.

    In fact, I can actually sympathise with how you feel. I say this because parkrun does come across as hypocritical. They say that parkrun is a run, not a race, and yet when you go on their website, there are pages dedicated to all sub 17 times, first finishers, top age grades, and I can go on. On the webpages for each individual parkrun there is also a top 500 list, first finishers list, and sub 17/20 times by men and women respectively, and again I can go on. If parkrun practiced what they preached there wouldn’t be any of this and perhaps the ability to search your own time only at most to track your progress against your personal bests.

    To address some of your other points…

    With regards to being lapped, the language that the leading runners used to warn the lapped runners was inappropriate and I apologise on their behalf. They should have kept it short, such as keep left or watch out, like I do at my parkrun, which also involves laps. Get out of the way is really rude in my opinion.

    Regarding why us runners turn up. I think there’s two main reasons, from my personal experience. Firstly, the bragging rights of being recognised by your local parkrun as the first finisher for this week attracts faster runners like myself, which links to my point previously. Secondly, the cost of races are extortionate, and with fuel prices at record highs I personally rarely race and instead do parkruns and time trials with my GPS watch that can track the distance covered. With parkrun being free for everyone, avoiding almost all of those costs makes it an appealing option.

    Sorry for the long post but I felt it might be beneficial to the debate on this issue by giving an opinion from a leading runner. It is definitely worth looking into single lap parkruns so you don’t face this situation again, because parkrun is a fantastic event, with all ages, abilities and backgrounds welcome, and it would be such a shame that you are put off parkrun by one experience.


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