WASHINGTON — Health is probably the last thing on people’s minds this weekend with Super Bowl celebrations encouraging excessive indulgence, but a group hosting free 5K runs hopes to put wellness at the forefront.
“The run is timed, just like a race. And you get a result that keeps track of all your 5Ks you’ve done with parkrun,” said Darrell Stanaford, country manager of parkrun USA.
Parkrun is a global organization that sponsors Saturday morning events at three D.C.-area locations for participants of all skill levels, shapes, sizes and ages.
Stanaford has done “parkruns” in locations worldwide, including Moscow and London, and nationwide in locations such as Florida near Orlando; Durham, North Carolina; and Mansfield, Ohio.
In addition to keeping track of all your run times, parkrun provides results based on age. “After I had been running several years, I can see — am I aging well or not? Am I staying in shape or not?” Stanaford said.
As part of the American Cancer Society’s HEAL (Healthy Eating Active Living Environments) initiative, the organization teamed up with parkrun USA to help promote free, healthy community activities. One of the most important ways people can reduce their risk of cancer is to be physically active on a regular basis, according to the group.
Beyond the health benefits, Stanaford says parkruns can be a great bonding experience.
For example, “If a child decides to walk part of it or not complete it, it’s no big deal; there’s another parkrun next week,” Stanaford said. “And if the child doesn’t finish the first one or doesn’t run the first one, the goal is still there to complete that parkrun.”
Parkuns begin 9 a.m. Saturdays. The three D.C. area locations are:
- Fletcher’s Cove
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath
4940 Canal Rd. NW, Washington, D.C.
- Paint Branch Trail
4289 Metzerott Rd.
College Park, Maryland
- Roosevelt Island
George Washington Memorial Parkway
Stanaford said he was told by Paul Sinton-Hewitt, who started parkrun 12 years ago, that the Roosevelt Island parkrun site is among the most beautiful in the world.
“We’re getting a lot of comments from people from Australia and South Africa and the U.K. that Roosevelt Island is one of the best places they’ve run,” Stanaford said.
Free parkrun registration makes you eligible to participate anywhere worldwide. Just register once on the group’s website.
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