Five years of Highbury Fields Parkrun: ‘The best way to start your Saturday’

Volunteer organisers of Highbury Fields Parkun at the weekend, promoting their food band drive for S

Volunteer organisers of Highbury Fields Parkun at the weekend, promoting their food band drive for Saturday's fifth anniversary run. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Getting up early on a Saturday morning, just so you can run 5km? It will sound like madness to many, but organisers of the Highbury Fields “Parkrun” insist: “It’s the best way to start your weekend!”

Volunteer organisers of Highbury Fields Parkun at the weekend, promoting their food band drive for S

Volunteer organisers of Highbury Fields Parkun at the weekend, promoting their food band drive for Saturday's fifth anniversary run. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

On Saturday, they are celebrating five years of the weekly run around the fields.

Note the word “run” rather than “race”. Alex Chase, a volunteer organiser of Highbury Fields Parkrun, says: “Our main ethos is this is never a race. It’s a free community run, open to anyone – that encourages people to engage with the outdoors.

“We get everyone from marathons runners to beginners. If people want to push their pushchair around the course, they can do just that.”

The Parkrun is now 10 times the scale it was when it started in 2011. Alex, 33, of Stoke Newington, adds: “We started off with 20 people. Now we have 200 every week. And that grows every January, when people have made their New Year’s resolutions.


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“It’s so important the run is free. If it’s not free, there’s no point. It’s a huge credit to Islington Council that it subsidises the run. It’s well worth it for the benefits the community gets out of it: a healthier body and a healthier mind.”

Put off by the 9am start? “For me,” says Alex, “it’s a fantastic way to start your weekend. You’ve had a long week at work, and it can be hard getting up early on a Saturday, but once you finish the run it hasn’t even gone 10am.

Volunteer organisers of Highbury Fields Parkun at the weekend, promoting their food band drive for S

Volunteer organisers of Highbury Fields Parkun at the weekend, promoting their food band drive for Saturday's fifth anniversary run. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

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“And most important, you feel amazing and ready to enjoy the weekend ahead of you.”

Even prospective brides and grooms agree: “We have had people over from South Africa run on the day of their wedding. It’s happened quite a few times: the bride and groom turning up and running in fake wedding outfits. There’s always an element of surprise – you never quite know who is going to turn up every week.”

As part of Saturday’s fifth anniversary celebration, organisers are encouraging donations to Islington Foodbank: any tinned or dried goods and cereals are welcome.

Visit parkrun.org.uk/highburyfields for more.

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