It's free, fun and everyone can take part – children with an adult, one dog per person if you choose, running buggies and walkers – it's open to all. It's a 5km route with no traffic to worry about, other than other park users. This means that some people can run it in 18 minutes and others may need to walk it and take closer to an hour – both are equally as welcome.
parkrun information - that's me in the middle picture!
In York, we're lucky enough to have two amazing parkruns but the York Racecourse is the closest to our house.
Firstly, as with all parkruns you must pop to their website and sign up – link below. Then you need to print out a bar code and take this with you to every parkrun no matter where in the world it is. If you want to get fancy you can buy barcode wristbands or key rings but a printed out version is fine. Side note, you cannot use your phone ie take a picture of the barcode. Next, log onto the individual parkrun's webpage or Facebook group to get any additional information. Things like bus routes that go past them and if it's track or field running etc. Due to the York parkrun being at the Racecourse you'll find it easy to reach, whether you walk, cycle, drive or take a bus. Normally we walk over either 'Dicky Bridge' or Iron Bridge if we have the running buggy. If you are travelling by car there's plenty of parking on Knavesmire Road or Racecourse Road. With that said, do allow around 10 minutes to walk to the starting line. You'll see everyone moving in the same direction towards the Cherry Lane / Tadcaster Road part of the race course.
High Vis Helpers
With your barcode, you need to turn up at 8.40 am. Although they start at 9 am I say to turn up early as there is a new runners briefing that's good to listen to. As with all parkruns, you'll find they have lots of volunteers in high vis-vests that will give the new runners briefing, help with pacing or simply point you in the right direction. The pacers run a variety of times from under (sub) 18 minutes to people that simply want to jog a minute run a minute. So from the Cherry Street area at 9 am the Race Director (blue and silver high vis-vest) will signal for everyone to go. The course is simple. You just do one full lap around the whole track, back to where you started, and then a little bit further (about another third) to the area near the finishing gates for the horses. You will have already run through this area as part of your first full lap.
At the end of your 5k, you'll be given a placement token eg the first person gets 1 and next 2 etc. This is where you must have your personal barcode. #DFYB means don't forget your barcode! No barcode means no time. Walk through the funnelled area and a volunteer will scan your printed off named barcode and then the placement barcode – which you must then hand back in. Following this there is nothing more to do. Most parkruns have a bit of a social gathering after and York is no expectation. There's normally a coffee stand nearby if you want a chat. Or sometimes I've joined them when there's a special event with plenty of cake or a fitness class to join.
Finally, a few hours after the event you'll get an email giving you your time, overall finishing number, male/female ranking and finally age category placement. You can either totally ignore this and just enjoy parkrun as it is or challenge yourself to beat it next time.
Now here are some reasons I love this venue. It's completely flat. I have ran it many a times with my baby/toddler in a running buggy and it's where people get a really fast time. We even have visually impaired runners with support as it's such an easy track. The only small negative is that there are no toilets or changing facilities.
Sometimes there are muddy or sandy areas on the track if the weather has been wet but most of the time its an easy one to get around. I'd love to hear from anyone that has joined this event with a wheelchair to see what they thought. Due to it being so popular there are plenty of pacers. This means its suitable for super fast folk but also if you are just starting out. There's a variety of walk run mixes helping you to build up to running the whole thing if that's your goal.
Example Pacers - if you need them
Please do check their Facebook page as they have to cancel the event often due to the horse racing, weather or other charity events like Race For Life. But as we now have a second parkrun on the other side of town you don't have to travel far for an alternative.
Oh, and if you have younger runners who want to run without an adult then don't forget to look at the junior parkrun on Sundays which is only 1km but at the same location.
As I mentioned, we are lucky enough to have two parkruns in York – have you done either? And the real question is do you dare say which you prefer?