Do you love travelling but hate missing your regular Saturday morning jog? Are you hesitant to go running on holidays because you’re worried about getting lost? Let parkrun be your travel guide, running buddy and personal trainer all in one.
Originating in the UK over a decade ago, parkrun is an international organisation that coordinates weekly, timed runs in parklands all over the world. It was created to provide free, accessible, non-competitive group training for runners of all ages and levels, from beginners to athletes, from young to old.
There are now parkruns in 11 countries, with more sure to be added soon. So if you’re travelling around the USA, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, France, Russia, South Africa, Singapore, or any state and territory in Australia, you may well have a parkrun near you at each stop.
To help you with your parkrun travel bucket list, we’ve picked five destinations with parkruns that we’d love to visit. Bon voyage!
1. Yelagin Island, St Petersburg, Russia
The first parkruns in Russia took place in Moscow in 2014, and there are now events all over the country. Our top pick is the parkrun held on Yelagin Island in St. Petersburg. The island is located at the mouth of the Neva River and has a rich history – from its time as a retreat for the ruling class in the 1800s, through to its present-day operation as a public park, offering many activities to St. Petersburg locals and tourists alike.
2. Nibe, Denmark
There have been parkruns in Denmark since 2009, and they are all held in stunning locations around the country. We’re quite keen to visit Nibe, a tiny, cobblestone-paved fishermen’s town in the far north of the country, on the Jutland Peninsula.
Nibe has a colourful past stretching back over 600 years, full of stories about vikings and explorers. Don’t miss the Troldkirken (Troll Church) just outside Nibe – a prehistoric rock formation which legend says was placed there by an angry troll.
3. Langebaan, West Coast National Park, South Africa
Since the inaugural parkrun in 2011, several parkruns have sprung up all over South Africa, where even the intense heat isn’t enough to stop eager runners. We’ve set our sights on Langebaan, a small town in the Western Cape province on the Langebaan Lagoon, part of the West Coast National Park.
As with most of South Africa, the area is known for its wildlife, in particular for its native birdlife, and along the lagoon you’ll find antelope, mountain zebras, mongoose, ostriches, flamingos, pelicans, African penguins and whales. We’ll see you there!
4. Bois de Boulogne, Paris, France
parkrun is relatively new to France, starting in 2015, but it’s now held in seven locations around the country. We fancy visiting the run in Bois de Boulogne, the second largest park in the French capital.
With a storied history stretching back to Napoleonic times, the park features many attractions and activities including manicured gardens, greenhouses, horse racing tracks, an amusement park and a zoo. It also features tennis courts, where the French Open is annually held. Plus, it’s the perfect spot for a post-parkrun picnic.
5. East Coast Park or West Coast Park, Singapore
The first South-East Asian country to host a parkrun, Singapore now has two parkrun locations to choose from: East Coast Park and West Coast Park. Our pick is East Coast Park, a stunning “urban getaway” famed for its multitude of activities and beautiful flora. Have a post-run swim at the beach, a picnic under the coconut palms, and finish up with a barbecue under the stars. You can even stay in the park, in a holiday chalet amid the trees.