You’ve probably heard of ParkRun. Launched in 2004, Paul Sinton-Hewitt said it’s creation was ‘selfish’. He wanted to stay fit and see his friends whilst injured and unable to run with his usual club.
The initial Saturday morning 5km run in Bushy Park, South London soon grew to be an event for everyone, regardless of their fitness levels or how sporty they were.
Following ParkRun’s boom, many other mass participation events grew. From morning raves in London to running through rainbow-colored clouds and swimming beside hundreds of others.
Public health experts claim these activities encourage those previously inactive people, who maybe felt disengaged from sport and events, to exercise and meet people. ParkRun themselves estimate they’ve got at least 40,000 previously inactive people running!
Such mass participation events are held in non-threatening environments, where people feel free of judgement, in an area with a sense of fun and camaraderie.
For example, The Great Swim series wants to make open-water swimming ‘safe, fun and accessible’, even for those who have never swum in the ‘wild’ waters before!
The event features different distances designed to suit all fitness levels, encouraging newbies to feel secure in their ability.
Another group that has launched their fair share of mass participation events are British Cycling. Women are typically less active than men in the UK, so since 2011 group rides have been organized by female volunteers trained to lead women-only events.
As well as getting women active and healthier, there’s also a social element.
The Colour Run is perhaps the biggest mass participation event, with over 6 million people have taken part across the globe. The course has been completed by dogs, children, as well as the disabled and the elderly.
If you want to improve your fitness, be more active and meet some new people, find your nearest ParkRun here, and keep your eye out for other mass participation events advertised online and locally!