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How Parkrun’s 13 became five million and changed weekends for ever | Sean Ingle

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Parkrun began 14 years ago and has now mushroomed into a heartwarming worldwide success story that is about to register its 5,000,000th runner

On Wednesday somebody somewhere will become the 5,000,000th person to register for Parkrun. Think about that. Let it marinate. It is an extraordinary number for an extraordinary success story. Parkrun began 14 years ago this week, with a simple idea: a free five-kilometre time-trial around Bushy Park, south west London. It was low-key, lo-fi, and unofficial. Thirteen people turned up. The results were typed up in a nearby Caffè Nero. No one bothered to ask the park for permission.

Now close to 250,000 people do it on a good weekend – across 20 countries, including Russia, Malaysia and Swaziland. The ambition is for that figure to climb to a million. On the evidence so far would anyone dare bet against them?

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