Weekly 5K runs ready to launch in Richmond

parkrun-logoWhat started as a short run through a park outside London in 2004 has evolved into a global fitness nonprofit that’s run its way to Richmond.

Parkrun, which organizes free, non-competitive 5-kilometer runs every Saturday morning in parks in 15 countries worldwide, is launching a Richmond chapter on June 3. Richmond will be the organization’s 11th market in the U.S.

Parkrun Richmond will be held at Deep Run Park in Henrico County. Registration for runners is free, and U.S. manager Darrell Stanaford said it leans on volunteers to keep operational costs down.

“We’ve got the permit for the park, getting seed funding started. The standard startup, one-time fee is $5,000, which covers equipment, support and other overhead,” Stanaford said.

“The overall operational budget for Parkrun in the U.S. is low. Insurance is about $5,000 per year, plus a few more thousand for equipment.”

Participants receive a key card, which is scanned at the start and finish of each run. Results are tracked online and sent out within hours of the event.

“The reason so many people do it is because it’s free and easy to register, plus you only have to do it once. There’s no bib, you just show up and do it. It encourages people who aren’t in shape to do it,” Stanaford said.

Parkrun founder Paul Stinton-Hewitt will be at the inaugural Richmond run.

In 2004, Stinton-Hewitt was sitting out injured while friends ran 5 kilometers through a park outside London. He took down their times on a piece of scratch paper. From that, the idea for Parkrun was born.

The organization entered the U.S. in 2012 in Michigan. Stanaford, its only U.S. employee, said each city’s run calls for five to 10 volunteers. He said typical Saturday runs average 50-100 people.

“It’s not very competitive. It’s a very chilled-out atmosphere,” Stanaford said, adding that most chapters end runs with coffee at a nearby café.

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