parkrun reflects on ‘a year like no other’ & looks forward to the next
Organisation crunches numbers from 2020 runner surveys and sees light at the end of the tunnel
The two million runners, walkers and volunteers who take part in parkrun every year might not have moved forward much over its 5k routes this year, but they have helped it move forward through the pandemic by providing their insights.
Collecting data is nothing new to parkrun, who’ve long sought the opinions of their participants through online surveys. But in a year like this, understanding how runners, walkers, landowners and volunteers feel is more important than ever.
Since the start of the year, parkrun has surveyed more people than ever before, and collected more than 130,000 individual responses in return.
Adding together the surveys parkrun undertakes on a regular basis, like those tracking trust in parkrun and those designed to understand volunteer experience, this year, the organisation has received a response from at least one participant from 95% of the events they hold across the world.
In particular, the ‘return to parkrun’ survey, which is essential to gauge the viability of parkruns returning in a certain area – has received more than 80,000 replies.
parkrun’s Global Head of Analysis Mike Graney said, “The common thread running through the responses remains the strong desire to reconnect with people. At least seven out of ten respondents in each territory indicated that connections with others in their community have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. Among the large majority of those surveyed, who consistently told us they are ready to return to parkrun, a key motivator across all territories was to feel part of a community again.”
He added, “While these surveys have shown a real resilience in terms of the desire to return to parkrun, we remain aware of the toll that the pandemic and associated lockdowns have taken on the parkrun community. Across the UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand we have carried out further research work to build our understanding of this impact.”
And it’s not too late to make your views known. Now in its 24th week, the ‘return to parkrun’ survey is still open for every member of the parkrun community to have their say on how they’re feeling at the moment, whether (and when) they would be prepared to run or volunteer, and their general views on health, wellbeing and the risks posed by coronavirus.
In his last global COVID-19 update of 2020 parkrun's Chief Operating Officer Tom Williams said, "We are all hopeful that as vaccines are rolled out around the world and medical treatment improves, there is light at the end of the tunnel. We know that many millions of parkrunners are currently without their local events, and we know how hard that is, but please be reassured that we are seeing progress everywhere, and the parkrun family is stronger than ever before.
"This year, more than any other year, it’s been a huge privilege to witness the friendship, support, and compassion within our community, despite the desperately difficult circumstances we have all found ourselves in.
"We really are getting through this, together."