The 5 unwritten rules of parkrun

There are a few things parkrun probably daren’t publish themselves. Here are the five unwritten rules of Parkrun.

– Guest post by Ann Holmes

You’ve waited for the sunniest Saturday of the year, donned a new pair of shorts, checked out the ultimate guide to completing your first parkrun and are ready to head out of the door.

Running with hundreds of others can be intimidating, and it can be made much worse if you don’t have a clue about Parkrun etiquette.

Despite the website’s extensive support pages, there are a few things parkrun probably daren’t publish themselves.

Here are the six unwritten rules of Parkrun.

Related: What to expect from your first parkrun.

Don’t push to the front if you’re going to finish at the back

Don’t get me wrong, parkrun volunteers love the enthusiasm of those who turn up early and stand at the start line.

However, there’s not much point being at the very front of the crowd if you’re not aiming for a 16-minute 5k.

Remember, parkrun is all about getting in a good, strong run at your own pace.

If you’re looking to make the average 30-minute mark, stick to the middle of the crowd. This way you’re bound to have a much better time without the huffs, puffs and pushes from runners trying to get past you.


Think of running a parkrun course a little like driving on the motorway. Always stay to the left, unless you’re getting ready to overtake.

If that’s the case then, by all means, go for it (if it’s safe, of course). Sticking to this really simple rule allows runners to run at their own pace and aim for that personal best.

(This may be different based on your individual parkrun)

Don’t spit

Please, please, try not to spit when you’re surrounded by hundreds of runners. No one wants your unruly spit to land on their shoes.

Sure, it’s something every runner has to do now again, but make sure you’re out of the way of others first. I think that’s probably enough said about that one.

Keep chats to the back

There’s nothing wrong with swapping between running and walking when doing a parkrun, as, after all, it’s all activity.

However, would you jump into the fast lane at the swimming pool only to float around, splash your friends and stop for a chat every five minutes? I seriously doubt it.

If you know you’re going to be having a natter, stay to the back of the crowd. And please, don’t run side by side in big groups.

The likelihood is that the runners at the front will lap you, and they will appreciate fighting to get past you just as much as you will appreciate getting pushed.

Don’t leave the finish line without a token

Unless you want to be screamed at by every volunteer at the finish line, do not leave before you have been given a finish position token.

If you do, you’re likely to be the reason it takes everyone hours to get their time because the volunteers have had to work it all out manually.

I wouldn’t like to be the one responsible for that.

The bottom line

Choosing not to follow the unwritten rules of parkrun is similar to taking more than ten items to the fast check-out, or hogging the right-hand lane of the motorway. You wouldn’t slam a door on the person standing behind you, so why zig-zag in front of someone trying to get a 5k personal best…?

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