A series of permanent parkruns will be created in the host cities and countries of world championship events

World Athletics has announced a new partnership with parkrun which will include the creation of a series of events in the host cities and countries of future world championships.

The concept of parkrun is to offer free, weekly, organised 5km and 2km events and now World Athletics will be combining resources with parkrun Global Limited “to grow the sport of athletics and deliver good health and fitness outcomes for communities around the world”.

Having started in Bushy Park in the UK in 2004, parkrun has expanded to 20 countries in the past 10 years and now has more than three million participants globally.

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“Parkrun will assist World Athletics to leave community health legacies in the host countries of World Athletics Series events by creating a series of permanent parkruns in the host cities and countries of world championship events, including the World Championships Oregon 2022 and Budapest 2023,” said the global governing body. “To that end, World Athletics will facilitate government/city support for these events.”

World Athletics CEO Jon Ridgeon said parkrun’s purpose aligned perfectly with the sport’s global ambitions for the next four years.

“We have just approved a strategic plan that has the main objective of using the power and accessibility of athletics and our athletes to create a healthier and fitter world,” he said.

“One of the ways we are doing this is by developing strong new partnerships where our common cause is to get the world moving. We know that many more people have taken up running during the lockdowns around the world, which makes sense because our sport is the most universal and accessible of all sports, and we want to encourage those people to keep up their new fitness routines as life returns to a more normal footing after the pandemic. Doing a weekly parkrun is an excellent way to stay motivated and find a local running community once mass events are possible again.

“We’re also determined to leave tangible community legacies in all of our future host cities and countries, and there is no better way to do that than by helping to improve the health of their citizens.”

READ MORE: Running for mental health

The parkrun CEO Nick Pearson said both organisations were determined to get more people running for their health, fitness and enjoyment.

“This partnership offers parkrun a fantastic platform to demonstrate the role, relevance and value of community health and wellbeing initiatives and to highlight that sport and physical activity is accessible to all,” he explained. “It is exciting to see this approach embraced by World Athletics, and we look forward to working with stakeholders in the host countries of World Athletics Series events to support and develop a network of parkrun events.

“We believe that finding positive ways to connect grass roots and community activity with elite sport has multiple benefits and builds stronger sporting foundations and broader engagement. Exercise and physical activity is more accessible and sustainable where sports organisations collaborate and work towards mutual goals. Encouraging the social and community participants to engage with and experience a more competitive sporting environment will help to build a stronger sport and expose pathways to more sporting opportunities.”

While parkruns are currently suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, events in New Zealand are set to resume on July 4.

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