Running Bug Forums Debates and polls parkrun – why they should scrap results and barcodes.


  • parkrun – why they should scrap results and barcodes.

     Richard Woodfield updated 4 months, 3 weeks ago 17 Members · 69 Posts
  • Ian S

    July 4, 2019 at 7:10 pm

    The last debate I put on here was about parkruns and so is this one. I honestly am not on a parkrun downer, I just saw a thread elsewhere and while reading it I come to the conclusion that all results, past and present should be scrapped.

    This is a piece I wrote on my new site, one I made because I was posting run items and PKU items all over the place, so decided to keep everything in one place. Here

    This is the piece I wrote and will hopefully fit well on the debates section here.

    parkrun and why all results should be scrapped.

    That’s what it is called, parkrun, not parkrace. Parkrun prides itself on being a run not a race. What matters is people taking part, enjoying, getting fitter, the community aspect.

    These are fine things and there is no doubt whatsoever that parkrun is a good thing. You can go online and read endless accounts of what people like about parkrun and how parkrun has changed their life. It’s great to read how parkrun and running has helped people.

    I myself have done some parkruns, though my 7 over 6 years is miniscule compared to most other folk. I am in no danger of even getting a T shirt with 10 on it never mind 100. The last parkrun I did was on 26th November 2016 in which I got a 5k PB.  I am in no rush to do another parkrun though, they just don’t fit into my regular training plan. Therefore I don’t do them.

    I do have some problem with the whole parkrun thing though. The old chestnut, is it a run or a race. I think parkrun is unofficially split down the middle. You do get the majority of people doing parkrun as a social venture, keeping fit, starting off running, enjoying a run with the kids or a friend.

    But there is also the darker side of parkrun which goes against the grain of parkrun organisers saying it’s not a race.

    As everyone who goes to parkrun knows, and indeed everyone who runs knows, parkrun is firmly a race in some peoples eyes, or legs I should add.

    My own experience with people I know who are parkrun regulars some go for the social side, some to run with the kids. The majority of people I know though are there to race, to get a personal best, to get as best position as possible, even to win it. Though the official words are there are no winners because it’s not a race.

    Every Saturday I see results posted and comments about how disappointed they are with their time, how far up the rankings they were, the fact they won their age category etc. People do race at parkrun wether the organisers like it or not.

    You instantly see the racers at parkrun and you certainly get to know of their achievements. Some people won’t even go through the finish line and record their time, if for whatever reason their time is not good in their eyes.

    People also know which parkrun routes produce quick times and will avoid hilly routes because they wont get that good time. I’ve seen many people post how unhappy they are with their time even though its ridiculously quick compared to most.

    I do have a solution to people racing these none race events.


    On the official parkrun site you get results. Lots of results. You can see your time, the position you came in the parkrun etc.

    You also get

    This Weeks First finishers. Listing all parkruns and who finished 1st in the Male and female category. You can’t tell me it’s not an ego boost to see your name on that list.

    Sub 17 minute list.If your running at 17:15  you will be striving to get your name on this list.

    Top Age GradeTimes and your age grade are listed on this list.

    New Category RecordsIt’s great to be on this list isn’t it, you’ve just broke a record.

    Most First FinishesNow who wouldn’t want to be on top of this list, your name next to most 1st finishes out of your countries parkruns.

    Why do all these results matter if it’s not a race. Why not scrap results and even the barcode system. Why does it matter if one parkrun gets more people than another parkrun. I would happily wager my savings that if results of all kind were scrapped at parkrun then there would be a drop in numbers of attendees. Not a drop in the numbers of none racers, the keeping fit, having fun, running with the kids people will still be there, it’s the racers who will stop going. The people who want bragging rights every week.

    If parkrun just posted that X amount of people turned up at a particular parkrun, wrote a piece on how everyone enjoyed themselves, said thanks to the volunteers etc but posted no results then surely that would be bringing parkrun back to its original ethos.

    Agree or disagree?


  • JillyMP

    July 5, 2019 at 10:43 am

    Ok, back now, with a cuppa.

    This is a really good debate, and hopefully you’ll get plenty of response from Parkrunners, of which I can’t really confess to being because I have done only 6 in 4 years, but before I go on, I would say NO to scrapping barcodes and times, though I do agree that parkrun is a run and NOT  a race.

    Parkrun is a free time trial for runners who can practise running against others and feeling comfortable as a “runner” in an event environment, learning to combat pre-race nerves and see how their time improves.  You can argue that you don’t need barcodes to do this, and you don’t, but I think a lot of regulars like that formality. I agree that the ones after the faster times would drop off and look elsewhere to find their best 5k times, but running should be all inclusive, regardless of speed and it works both ways.

    I have been first lady finisher twice, massive ego boost! Back in 2016 when my feet actually like me. They were fast times for me (23.27 is in my dreams now, not dead flat either with hairpins) but there are way faster women out there, and it was nice for me for once,  to have that accolade. Fast forward to this year, and had a fab parkrun experience at Newby up in the Lakes, 24th lady finisher and just as chuffed and proud of that achievement albeit 3 minutes slower, but still an excellent time and loved it.  I do want to do more, and don’t give a monkeys if it’s 20, 30 or 40 mins, I did like being somewhere different and pushing myself, competing against me. I also know quite a few runners who are never at the top or middle of the table, but enjoy the time trial aspect.

    I will never get the t-shirt to say how many runs I’ve done, but for those that notch them up every week, have that dedication, it is something to be proud of. And isn’t that the point of Parkrun, to get out and exercise and feel good about yourself?



  • meercat58

    July 5, 2019 at 1:10 pm

    Just wrote a spiel posted it, hey ho it tells me the site cant be reached and disappears 😠 not writing it all again but endorsing what @jilly said and basically if it aint broke dont try and fix it. everyone uses parkrun for what they want to get out of it and no one gives a monkeys 😊

  • Ian S

    July 5, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    Your right MC, let everyone get what they want out of it. But as parkrun are very quick to tell everyone it’s not a race, then why print results and leader boards etc. Parkrun know full well many go there to race, why not say it’s a race.

  • Karl B

    July 5, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    Difficult one, depends what you want out of it. I don’t do the run very often either as a 5k doesn’t generally fit in with my running schedules either. I’ve come first twice, I’ve ran in fancy dress; I’ve ran from the back when coming back from injury and picked off the pacers one by one, and also pulled up injured. If you really want to race, then I agree you should go and pay for a 5k race. I take this attitude as I volunteer more than I run them, and I’ve seen many an annoyed runner, and I have to think to myself get a grip; it is a free timed run. Now I like the timed aspect, as I see walkers; children and adults who are doing something to either keep or get fit, and the feeling of elation and the massive smiles I see when I give people their tokens and have beaten their previous PB by say 2 seconds is a fantastic sight and you can’t help feeling dead chuffed for them. Some aren’t going to be the fastest of runners ever, but hey I’ve just beaten my PB by 2 seconds when perhaps the person who has come first hasn’t. Who has made the bigger achievement that week?

  • meercat58

    July 5, 2019 at 3:08 pm

    @Ian if they start saying its a race probably 50% of the people who go will stop going 🙂 I really dont believe there are many who go there specifically to race, wrong environment and its not exactly an accolade as a top club runner to say you were first at parkrun. 🙂 🙂

  • Ian S

    July 5, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    Think your wrong there MC, many many people go there to race and they definitely want the accolade of being 1st. They want to see their names top of the list.,

  • JillyMP

    July 5, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    But racing against yourself is different to racing others? I think a lot of park runners (me included, those few times when its fitted into my plan), have only got their positions by default. Didn’t set out to come first that time, just ran round quickly and it just so happened that no other lady was quicker.  I would say the majority of runners are racing against their own time. There maybe some rivalry with the super speedy ones, the runners that get right at the front, but you’d have to be pretty clued up who is ahead of you. Are parkrunners really like that?

    I say keep the barcodes and results. Everyone loves it, mostly and it has become a phenomenal success.

    (But I will do a quick google…)

  • Richard Gregory

    July 5, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    Parkrun yes a run but not a race, it’s me and the clock. I have a near neighbour who has started running fairly recently likes the friendliness of  Parkrun his goal was to get under 30 mins he has done this and last week he got another pb laying on the ground he said only a 4 sec pb, I reminded a 1 sec improvement is a pb and be happy. Without the barcode and time not sure he or others like would push themselves.

  • meercat58

    July 5, 2019 at 5:21 pm

    @Ian if the top runners want to be first they want to be first at club events not parkrun. They want to be first against “equal ” opposition not joe bloggs who runs once maybe twice a week. They want to win trophies and beers and team prizes not just a position token that says number 1😊

    Jilly is right about racing yourself 😊

  • Ian S

    July 5, 2019 at 7:38 pm

    @mc  on parkrun results page they have a biggest club leader board. 1, which club has most members doing parkrun and 2, how many parkruns that club and its members has done. Add up the club members on that list, it’s in the thousands. If members of X club turn up at a parkrun and theres members of y & z clubs, they will race.

  • sharnie1

    July 5, 2019 at 7:57 pm

    I’m fairly ambivalent about park run, the only time it even registers on my radar is when I log on here on a Saturday.  I’ve never done one and I’m not sure I ever will?  So I struggle to get excited about it – in the same way a 5 and 10k runner struggles to get excited about a marathon or ultra?

    I recognise the joy it brings to many runners up and down the country every week though, and the many positives – but I’m a little bemused that it’s become the competitive beast it has.   To me it now has some properties that are the anti the ethos with which it started – but for me the biggest negative has been what I’ve heard from local friends and bugs on here who have done park run soon after starting running – lots of “it’s cliquey” or not friendly comments, and one friend who got obsessive about rubbishing herself because she was comparing herself to others in her age category, and week in week out flogging a 5k out trying to get faster, yet she and we all know logically that comparison is the fastest route to misery.  Think my only question to those who go regularly is – do you talk to the noobs (you personally or do you assume someone else will) do you wait and cheer the last person home or are you straight back in your car or in the cafe having breakfast and comparing times with your club mates?

    Don’t get me wrong I salute the couple of friends I have on my list who regularly volunteer and act as Pacers/tail runners – that’s the ethos of park run I first heard about and cheered – participating and giving back!!  I just wonder how many times those “fastest” runners have volunteered?  As a suggestion if you’re going to have these “results” and “league tables” then there should be a number in brackets next to the result that reports how many times a runner has volunteered?  Because I suspect many of those fastest runners aren’t giving the love back?

  • meercat58

    July 5, 2019 at 8:38 pm

    Both of Herefords clubs (Wye Valley and Couriers ) regularly volunteer at parkrun, they act as pacers and also once in a while have a parkrun takeover when they fill all the volunteer roles including Run Director. Maybe in Hereford we are in a different parkrun universe 😊

  • Richard Woodfield

    July 5, 2019 at 11:20 pm

    I definitely don’t think they should scrap results and barcodes.  They are all part of the fun and encouragement – and so many people love to get PBs or a good age grade % and get enormous satisfaction from seeing the number parkruns they’ve done mounting up.  I do much of the comms for one parkrun and we consciously focus on participation, volunteering, enjoyment achievement of PBs (whatever your pace) and rarely for example mention who was first finisher.  In my experience at our parkrun most of the people most of the time are – if looking to do a fast one on their terms- are competing against themselves.  And my impression, too, is that quite a few parkrunners (mostly male lol!) are in general not competing against other parkrunners, BUT are massively competitive when it comes to a couple of their mates – desperate not to be overtaken on final straight.  That sort of thing is harmless enough providing they are not barging past other people etc.

    I do agree there are some issues – like the people who always run and hardly ever volunteer (other than perhaps as pacer, when they can still do their 10k.)  So I’m rather ambivalent about celebrating people reaching huge milestones for the number of parkruns, if it’s partly a consequence of their hardly ever having volunteered.  Likewise there are probably a few somewhat questionable items in the numerous different tables and lists, which perhaps over emphasise the speed achievements.  It would be useful if there were comparable tables listing volunteering achievements!  You could also perhaps query the emphasis given to parkrun tourism where it leads to people travelling huge distances week by week to clock up ever most distant parkruns while never volunteering.  It’s a lot of fun visiting different parkruns and, obviously, it’s a entirely possible to do and enjoy a fair amount of parkrun tourism while still putting in a good quota of volunteering.


    In terms of levels of encouragement given to runners, at our parkrun at least, there is plenty of highly enthusiastic applause etc for runners at the finishing funnel – especially for the later finishers struggling up the last hill.  Welcoming newcomers at an individual level can be an issue – basically there is such a large pool of participants including loads of occasional attenders and a continuing supply of newcomers that even the most assiduous of regulars won’t generally be identify who is a newcomer unless it’s particularly obvious.

    So, in my view there’s far more pluses than minuses.  Above all the sheer number of people, including many in middle age and later life, who are taking regular, systematic physical exercise, along with the huge numbers who do volunteer.  Also got to give parkrun some plaudits for extending into prisons and taking initiatives to set up events in more deprived areas.



  • Guernsey Girl

    July 6, 2019 at 5:55 am

    Good topic Ian.  I’m not really a Parkrun runner, not normally the distance I go out of my way to do (unless coming back from injury) and I haven’t actually done many – last week being number 10.  I’ve done more volunteering than actually doing it, which gives me a lot of satisfaction.  You see a lot more when volunteering and agree it’s split down the middle in respect of races and social runners.  I don’t think you should scrap the results or barcodes as for a lot of people this is the motivation to get moving and to see if there is any improvement……….. irrespective of if they are anywhere near the front.  I’ve seen people I work with go from saying “you’ll never see me doing that” to them regularly doing it and watching their improvement due to the results and being able to do the comparisons based on the different locations.  They text me with how they’ve done and how it went as soon as their results are through and it gives them such a buzz.  Even the walkers will talk about how much they are improving along with their fitness levels and that they enjoy the sociable, friendly nature of Parkrun.

    In response to your question Sharnie, I personally love talking to the noobs as they have no expectations and if they are nervous trying to relax them.  The best part is if I see them at the end and they have a big smile on their faces as they have finished and enjoyed it and thank you for helping.  I think I must have a beacon above my head saying speak to me as this happens pretty much every time I’m there.

    I do agree with Richard in that some people are hooked on taking part and because of this they don’t volunteer – Parkruns can’t happen without volunteers.  If everyone who ran volunteered twice a year, wouldn’t that be great.  The main difference is with the majority of the volunteer positions you have to commit more time as you can’t just leave after 20 or 30 minutes!

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