Sport England is to provide £3 million in investment to help create 200 new parkrun events across the UK over the next three years.
The investment, funded by the National Lottery, is to assist the free community-based event to specifically increase participation among women and individuals from lower socioeconomic groups, two targets in Sport England’s strategy Towards an Active Nation.
The new project is to specifically target new parkrun events in communities that have the most to benefit from free, weekly social activity in open spaces.
Since its inception 14 years ago, parkrun has had more than 1.8 million registered participants across its 125,436 5k events on Saturday mornings.
The event has grown from its first ever event in Bushy Park, south west London, and now takes place in 584 locations across the UK.
A further 250,000 people have volunteered to assist community events and 256,000 junior 2k parkruns have also been put on for 4-14-year-olds on Sundays.
Sport England revealed that the investment will enable the digital modernisation of parkrun’s platform for registration, results and event information.
The public board invests up to £300 million of National Lottery and government money each year in projects and programmes that help people engage in sporting activity.
Tim Hollingsworth, who recently took up the role of Sport England Chief Executive, said: “This important partnership with parkrun is part of our ongoing strategy to help grow new and innovative sporting ideas and broaden their reach into the demographics in society who are least likely to be active.
“The funding – which is only possible thanks to National Lottery players – will enable parkrun to reach females and people on a low income, who are less likely to be active than the general population.”
Nick Pearson, parkrun Chief Executive, added: “This is an endorsement of the strides we have taken to create a model that empowers communities to implement a permanent mixed gender, multi-generational health intervention that appeals to a broad cross-section of society, particularly those for whom physical activity and volunteering is not the norm.”
Pearson added: “If we are to realise our target of increasing the number of parkrun events by one third in socially deprived areas in England over the next three years, we require a level of investment that will allow us to be proactive rather than organic in our approach.
“We are now in a position to build on our message and encourage more people to walk, jog, run and volunteer at our events by growing into new areas and engaging new audiences.”