parkrun has teamed up with sports scientists, engineers, psychologists and public health experts from Sheffield Hallam University to develop ways to improve the health and wellbeing of the UK population.
The new partnership, which was launched at Sheffield Hallam parkrun on Saturday 10 September, will enable academics at the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) to look at how the free running events are impacting on health outcomes and conduct research into the nation's physical activity levels.
Chief Operating Officer for parkrun Tom Williams said: "This partnership will provide an exciting opportunity for us to support research into exercise, wellbeing and social cohesion, which fits with our vision of creating a healthier and happier planet.
"As the world's largest community of runners and volunteers we have a unique ability to support researchers in understanding how behaviour impacts health and wellbeing."
The AWRC is delivered alongside Legacy Park Ltd at Sheffield's Olympic Legacy Park (OLP) which is a joint venture between Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Sheffield City Council.
Largely on the site of the former Don Valley Stadium in Attercliffe, Sheffield, the OLP will be home to range of world-class sports and exercise facilities, giving members of the public the chance to improve their health and wellbeing alongside elite athletes and sports men and women.
The OLP site will be landscaped to include a 1k running loop that will allow for a junior parkrun to be established.
Professor Steve Haake, director of the AWRC, said: "This is a huge step towards our vision of developing the most advanced research and development centre for physical activity in the world.
"parkrun is an internationally renowned organisation that hosts almost 1,000 runs per week across the world. Their aims mirror ours in that they want to make it as easy as possible for people to be physically active and help them to live better for longer."
parkrun is the third organisation to sign up to be a major partner of the AWRC after Toshiba and Westfield Health provided £3million of cutting edge equipment and research funding.
The AWRC is set to become the most advanced research and development centre for physical activity in the world, creating 'innovations that help people move' in sport, health-care, physical activity and leisure and will work with the private sector to design new products and services from initial concept all the way through to market.
A short video of the launch event featuring interviews with Tom Williams and Steve Haake is available here.