parkrun announced as major partner of Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University

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."

Partnership launch with Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre

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."

Partnership launch with Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre

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.

 

parkrun and GoodGym join forces to help vulnerable people

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parkrun and GoodGym, two of the UK’s biggest providers of free, organised physical activity and volunteering have joined forces in an exciting new partnership to extend their positive impact by engaging runners in supporting 60,000 older people by 2020.

Since 2004, parkrun has grown from 13 runners in London’s Bushy Park to become the world’s biggest running event. More than 150,000 runners and walkers of all ages take part in parkruns every weekend across 14 countries, thanks to the contribution of more than 10,000 weekly volunteers.

GoodGym is a growing community of runners who combine exercise with helping local communities. Members stop off on runs to support isolated older people and undertake manual labour for community organisations. GoodGym runners have carried out thousands of runs to help older people in London and Bristol, and GoodGym aims to launch in every city in the UK by 2018.

parkrun and GoodGym will make it easier than ever for people to get involved in volunteering and physical activity. Through the partnership, which will include website integration, parkrunners will be invited to GoodGym runs and GoodGym runners will be invited to parkrun. The organisations will also aim to collaborate to bring their work to new cities. Following the partnership launch at Mile End parkrun on Saturday 10 September, a group of people ran to Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park and planted 1,500 bulbs and cleared ivy from gravestones.

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There are a million people in the UK who are often lonely, and 2.4 million who have no one local to ask for help. The aim of this partnership is to simultaneously increase physical activity and reduce the number of people who feel isolated and lonely.

Nick Pearson, parkrun CEO said: “GoodGym share our vision to create a healthier and happier planet. Together we can do this by providing free physical activity, removing barriers to participation and creating inclusive, welcoming communities and friendships.

“A number of parkrunners already contribute their time to GoodGym projects, and we hope this partnership will provide a pathway for even more to join in and support both community projects and older people in their local areas.”

Ivo Gormley, founder of GoodGym said: “If you are running in a city, you are probably running past the house of someone who is alone and who hasn’t seen family or friends for days, possibly weeks. This partnership will make it easier for runners to stop off and support those people older people wherever they live.

“Getting involved with both GoodGym and parkrun allows you to meet loads of amazing people, improve your running and do lots of good for your local community. parkrun and GoodGym offer a range of activities that can make the UK a healthier, happier place to live in, not just for those who run.”

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Further details about the partnership will be announced shortly.

Photos courtesy of Bruce Li

 

Tony Scott, Harrow parkrun

In 1981 I ran the very first London Marathon. I was 39 years old and a PE teacher in North London - because I wasn’t good enough to be a professional footballer!

My interest in running came about through my job and I never used to send my students for a run - I took them for a run. I ran two more London Marathons, but by the mid-eighties my health started to deteriorate (due to Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis) and in 1988 I was told that I would need a liver transplant in about ten years time, and it was exactly that.

Eventually I remember coming back from a four mile run and recording in my training diary: “I have just run a personal worst, will I ever be able to run again?"

Over time I became enormously anaemic, my skin turned yellow and I stopped driving because I was concerned I would fall asleep at the wheel. I became weak, had no energy, and certainly couldn’t run or lift weights. I was in the depths of despair.

In February 1998 I got the 'phone call' and then my transplant, and immediately set about regaining my fitness.

I asked for an exercise bike in my ward, and after four days I got one on the basis that I promised to be sensible. When I got home I started walking but remembered that if you walk 50 metres out then you have to walk 50 metres back home again!

I was sensible and I built up my fitness steadily. After about six months I could jog a couple of miles, and in 2003 I heard about the British and World Transplant Games, which I have been competing in ever since. I’ve represented my hospital (Addenbrookes) at ten and Team GB at six World Transplant Games, winning gold in France, Canada, Thailand, Australia, Sweden and Argentina where I won four gold medals and set new world records in my age group (70+) for 400m, 800m, 1500m and 5000m.

I am hoping to get selected for the 2017 World Transplant Games in Malaga and am expecting a selection letter in the next few days.

A few years ago, a former pupil emailed me and asked if I’d heard of parkrun. He was going to Hampstead Heath parkrun, so we went along to the inaugural, and I then began running at Harrow parkrun when it launched as it’s closer to home. I take part in parkrun regularly (I’m a proud owner of a red 50 shirt) as it is an important part of my training, but mostly because I enjoy the camaraderie and the social aspect. You just never know who you are going to meet at 9am on a Saturday morning in your local park.

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I don’t worry about my transplant, I just go out there and run, lift weights and do yoga classes. Life is all about making sensible decisions, just like it was when I got the exercise bike in my ward all those years ago. Decisions such as always using the upstairs toilet because you get more exercise, being sensible with alcohol, and resisting the temptation to sign up to the London Marathon!

Tony Scott
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Photo courtesy of Mike Lepps

 

 

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