Running is a true phenomenon around the country and in fact around the world but in London there is a closer feeling with the free running event. Runners transcend onto their local park or area where there is an event every single Saturday at 9am (9:30 if you are in Scotland) and take part in a 5km timed run.

The running event attracts thousands of people all over the country each Saturday and keeping lots of people fitter. Some even see it as a great chance to get up early, do a run, feel good thne enjoy some beers watching the football whilst using to bet on the games; a perfect Saturday!

What is parkrun?

So it may been alluded to what it is but essentially the event is a 5km running event that is hosted by local volunteers who like the runners come down on a Saturday morning to make sure the event is a success. Without these volunteers, parkrun does not exist and thousands will be left disappointed!

The event uses a barcode system for timing so everybodys time starts as soon as the timer starts. So even if you cross over the line 10 seconds after the start, this time will be added onto your time.

Once you cross the finish line you grab a place barcode from an amazing volunteer then you will scan your personal barcode (along with your place barcode) to another amazing volunteer who scans it to the parkrun system.

Once you have settled back in at home you will get an email with your time and place.All this date is kept with your running times at every parkrun you have done and scanned in for. It helps trying to beat your own PB or your own course PB.

Why the association with London?

London is the home and now spiritual home for parkrunners. Set up in London on 2nd October 2004, Paul Sinton-Hewitt came up with the idea and hosted the first parkrun, along with 13 other runners. However, it was not named parkrun but it was run under its original name Bushy Park Time Trial; much more of a mouthful!

Since that day there are now more than 2,000 parkrun locations in 23 countries across six continents, 1158 in the UK and 60 in London alone. So which ones are best ones in the capital?

Bushy Park

The original, the mecca and one of the most popular parkruns in the capital. A lot of parkrun enthusiasts want to have this run on their stats and when people are down in London they look to see how close they are to Bushy Park and get there for 9am.

Hackney Marshes

This one is ideal for a PB. London has a lot of flat courses but this one is the lowest above sea level. It is also solely tarmacked so there is no worry of running on grass.

Hackney Marshes will also be iconic for football fans after the advert filmed there. People will be remembering the Nike advert with Eric Cantona, David Seaman and Ian Wright.

Highbury Fields

What makes Highbury Fields perfect for a tourist is that it is so close to a tube station. It is just a three-minute walk from Highbury & Islington station and it could easily warm you up prior to your 5km run.

Also another iconic area for football fans with Arsenal previously playing at Highbury.


This one is if you fancy a challenge on a Saturday morning in London! It is a challenge for many due to the hill aspect in the course. There is a sharp hill 1.5km into the course, which you have to tackle twice on your run. Not only that but the course is mainly off the tarmac and has a cross-country feel to it.

There will not be a PB set when doing it but there is definitely a sense of achievement when you scan that barcode to register your time for the day.

Ally Pally

This is a perfect place for a run if you like to look at views! Ally Pally has two courses and both of them are beautiful. However, the winter course makes for a beautiful one as it is less off the grass and the frosty morning views make for a whimsical time at parkrun.

Hampstead Heath

Up there with Ally Pally for views but with just a hillier aspect. Hampstead Heath is synonymous with Londoners for views on a walk, particularly in the winter months. However, a run up there is a lot more challenging and rewarding for people.

Hampstead Heath is a real winner!