It’s not all about speed, sometimes bigger is best. So here’s the top 10 parkruns, by size, according to the record attendance for each. 

There’s no prizes for guessing which parkrun is the biggest, it’s the home of parkrun Bushy Park with 2545 attending on Christmas Day 2019. Like when Charlotte Arter turns up for some running, the top spot was long since determined by the Gods of running.

The southwest London event has been going since the first “Bushy Park time trial” back in October 2004 and also had some fast times in our all-time top 10 rankings from last week. The park itself is the second largest of London’s Royal Parks and in terms of this competition, she led from the start and never looked back.

A clear second place was a bit of a surprise with Southampton parkrun with 1612 attending on the 18th January this year. The event on Southampton Common has some speedy course records too with 14:50 for Alex Teuten and 16:40 for Lorna Russell.

Another surprise in the third spot is Norwich parkrun with 1360, but maybe not unsurprising if many of the runners in outlying areas of Norfolk are heading into the county capital for a fast and, not surprisingly, flat course. The three and a half lap course is another quick one with Nick Earl clocking 14:45 and Olivia Walwyn running 17:02 for the course records. It’s also one of the three records set on Christmas Day in 2019.

Back to the south coast for fourth with Poole. Maybe it’s the fine weather that brings out the biggest numbers or just the fact it’s a fast and picturesque event that goes round a lake and even has some lovely fountains to draw you attention whilst in that 5k pain cave.

London events featuring thrice

There’s two more London events in here with Clapham and Tooting Common having records of 1310 (5th) and 1092 (10th) respectively. Given the huge populations in both areas and the large open spaces it makes sense they would feature and having run around both several times myself it is flat and easy running with plenty of cafe options afterwards.

Seventh and eighth position includes two events that often feature in our top ten each week, with Cardiff (1192 in 7th) and Cannon Hill, Birmingham (1118 in 8th) popular events for quick runners to post a PB. One must ask the question if the vast numbers are something spurring the quicker athletes on, it will certainly keep everyone moving.

Last, but not least, we have extended to 11 spots this week as Huddersfield is the only other event to draw over 1000 runners, by just eight runners actually, and not make the top ten. Having attended this one myself, I think it’s my parkrun PB, it’s astonishing just how many runners fit into Greenhead Park on a Saturday morning.

The twisty, turns course is really beautiful, with some little ups and downs to make it interesting too. Mark Buckingham’s course record of 14:49 is bloody impressive and Jennifer Walsh’s 16:40 women’s record is damn speedy too.

On to next week and we’re already thinking of ideas and figuring out how to work them out, but hopefully this is just another example of how great the parkrun initiative and community has become. From that first day back in October 2014 it’s truly grown to be an important part of a British, and global, weekend.

parkrun attendance top 10

1) parkrun: Bushy Park
2545 attending on 25/12/2019
2) parkrun: Southampton
1612 attending on 18/01/2020
3) parkrun: Norwich
1360 attending on 25/12/2019
4) parkrun: Poole
1345 attending on 25/12/2019
5) parkrun: Clapham Common
1310 attending on 11/01/2020
6) parkrun: Milton Keynes
1240 attending on 18/01/2020
7) parkrun: Cardiff 
1192 attending on 17/02/2018
8) parkrun: Cannon Hill
1118 attending on 04/05/2019
9) parkrun: Heaton Park
1112 attending on 18/01/2020
10) parkrun: Tooting Common
1092 attending on 11/01/2020
11) parkrun: Huddersfield
1008 on 01/01/2020

If you would like to run faster at parkrun, top tips to help runners of all abilities can be found here.

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