It’s fun, free and good for your health – and it’s been taking the country by storm.
Since it began in 2004, Parkrun has expanded to more than 400 locations across the UK and more than 1m people have taken part.
As the popularity of lining up on a Saturday morning to run 5km soared, it seemed Blackpool was one of very few places not getting in on the action – until now.
After a low-key launch last weekend, the resort is lacing up its running shoes for the first official Blackpool Parkrun on Saturday.
Hundreds of runners –of all ages and abilities – are expected to head to Stanley Park to take part.
It comes after the Lytham Parkrun recently celebrated its first anniversary and saw it prove so popular that a junior version launched last weekend.
Blackpool and The Fylde College has teamed up with Blackpool Council to help stage the runs.
The events are all staffed by volunteers and students from the college will be among those giving up their time to support runners on a two-lap route around the park.
Jo Kershaw, head of leadership and management at B&FC, said: “Having taken part in various Parkrun events myself I know how popular they can be and as a town with a major tourism economy I can’t think of a better location than Blackpool.”
She said the events will be a ‘welcome’ boost to the resort and praised staff who have helped arrange them.
“It will also be a great opportunity for local people who may not be confident in their running ability but have been looking for ways to get more active in an organised and supportive environment.” she added.
“It is a free event and people are usually finished within an hour so we are hoping visiting runners and their families will make the most of their time by visiting Blackpool’s many attractions.”
The event, which aims to encourage people of all abilities to become more active, will take place every Saturday at 9am.
The route will take participants along East Park Drive past the BMX track and model village, back along the boating lake, up to the bandstand and then via the rose garden and the tennis courts back past the clock tower and on to the finish.
Following each run, the competitors are invited for a post-event tea or coffee in the pop-up café at Blackpool Sports Centre.
Coun Maria Kirkland, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for leisure services, added: “We’ve been extremely keen to bring Parkrun to Blackpool for a while now.
“Stanley Park is the perfect location to host the event as it is already a popular spot for people to go for a run. This isn’t just for regular runners however, the spirit of Parkrun is that it is free and anybody can take part – no matter how quick or slow you might be.
“Parkrun is a great way for families to start becoming more active. I will be dusting off my trainers and taking to the park for the first run and I hope to see lots more families joining in with me.”
All runs are timed. To take part, register in advance at www.parkrun.org.uk