Jake Wightman: Coffee, cake and the joy of parkrun where novices rub shoulders with world champions

There are more than 700 parkruns taking place across the UK on Saturday mornings, and for Jake Wightman they represent the ultimate sporting democracy.
Jake Wightman is a parkrun enthusiast.Jake Wightman is a parkrun enthusiast.
Jake Wightman is a parkrun enthusiast.

As he points out, where else can kids and novices stand shoulder to shoulder alongside world champions?

“I’ve done parkruns since I was 16,” said Wightman. “It’s been a pretty big part of my development and I will try to do one every winter. It’s a great chance to test fitness over 5K.

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“It’s the perfect Saturday morning because you can get a big hit of exercise in at 9am and still have the rest of your day. And if you’re not competitive, you don’t have to race anybody. ”

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Founded in 2004, parkrun has evolved into a worldwide phenomenon, with over five million runners registered worldwide. Covid brought a temporary halt and the push is now on to get participation back up to pre-pandemic levels.

“I don’t think enough people are aware of how good a parkrun can be, mentally and physically,” added Wightman, the world 1500m champion. “It’s the community of it that I think is great. You are never judged for being slower than anybody else. And there’s always a chance for coffee and cake afterwards.

“I can be on the start-line with a kid or someone who’s just starting running and there are not many sports where you get the chance to do that.”

National Lottery players raise vital funding into sport in the UK, including over £3.6m to parkrun. The National Lottery and parkrun have joined forces to encourage people across the UK to take part in their local parkrun. For more information visit www.parkrun.org.uk

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