More than a parkrun: ‘It’s all about the community’


parkrun has given Mark more than he could have ever imagined – not least a budding community that he can rely on through the good and the bad


Mark never thought that running would become central to his life. Now, it’s a pivotal part of almost everything he does. 

Why, you ask? “It’s all about the community”.

Like many others, Mark’s introduction to community running was at a Saturday morning parkrun; and to say that day has been transformative would be an understatement. 

Meeting a friendly fellow runner at that very first run, Mark went back to parkrun the following Saturday. Then he went back again, and again, and again. “It’s changed my life in so many ways.”

That community was also able to help Mark as he made his way around the 2018 London Marathon. 

Despite the gruelling realisation at mile seven that it wasn’t going to be his day, it was the parkrun community that gave him the strength he needed to carry on. 

“I realised that we’re all friends, and friends of friends through parkrun, who were looking out for me because they knew my number. And it was that community that got me across that finish line,”

Ultimately, the community he has built with fellow parkrunners has warded off one of life’s greatest challenges: “The biggest fear of not having running or community is loneliness. Whatever mood I’m in, I know that parkrun is going to make me feel better.”

Beyond Mark’s bountiful community, parkrun has given him other skills he never imagined he’d learn. Now an official guide runner, he helps people around parkrun with visual impairments. He’s also learnt sign language and become a qualified England Athletics coach.

“I’m at the track tonight, we’re all together, and it doesn’t matter how good, or how fast or what size you are, we’re just all runners together.”

Watch more from Mark in the video below:

Related: Join the club! Rise of the running revolution

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Vitality members with health insurance and life insurance plans can earn activity points for running, walking and volunteering at a parkrun event. 

Visit the Vitality UK member app to find out more.