Bec and her partner Harry are proud Park Runners. Every Saturday morning they run 5km at their local free Park Run event. But recently, they’ve been mixing it up.


It’s nearly 8am and a growing crowd forms in the bright sunshine next to Moona Moona Creek. Two large teardrop banners and smiling hi-vis vested volunteers are the beacon for this weekly pilgrimage of over 100 people who participate in Huskisson’s Saturday morning Park Run. A tradition that’s been going for over 194 Saturdays to date.

One of the male volunteers pulls out a megaphone and starts to welcome the gathering crowd. First, there’s a callout for first-time park runners, as a few hands start to appear in between the sea of heads.

Then, the general admin of what happens next is quickly cascaded to the eager bunch. Once the megaphone is down, the crowd bundles up towards the start line and just like that, the runners hit the pavement and like a swarm, head out on the marked track.

Around the country, thousands of runners are lacing up and pounding the gravel or trail for a weekly 5km each Saturday in their local neighbourhood, known as ‘Park Run’.

What the heck is Park Run?

Started in 2004 in the UK, Park Run events have emerged in 22 countries from Australia to Namibia to Poland. All with the simple aim of creating a continuous community of free 5km weekly events for anyone to run, walk, jog, volunteer or spectate at.

In Australia alone, there are 454 Park Runs nationwide, run by a dedicated group of passionate volunteers, with new ones being added regularly.


100 Park Runs for One T-Shirt, Rebecca Burton, people, park, grass, run


This is the first time my partner Harry and I have attended the Huskisson Park Run. But it’s Harry’s 71st and my eighth Park Run in total.

Harry’s clocked up most of his mileage at Sydney Park, a quick hundred metres from his front door. While my exposure to Park Run has been more recent, and despite doing a lot of laps on my local Curl Curl route, many went unrecorded when the official Park Runs were suspended during lockdowns.

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This is where it gets addictive and potentially competitive.

Registering for Park Run means you get a unique barcode that allows you to scan in at the end of every 5km loop. It keeps track of how many events you’ve participated in, where you were, your time, and how you placed among the crowd.

You’ll see shirts dotted throughout the crowd of these Saturday runs with the numbers 25, 50, 100, and 250 on their backs.

These coveted badges of honour can only be ordered once you have proof of completing that many Park Runs against your unique barcode. With Harry closing in on the big 100, it was only months until he could don the coveted 100 T-shirt too.


A Weekly Tradition Becomes a New Way to Explore

Our Saturdays became either an early alarm for the 7am Curl Curl Park Run or a longer lie-in for the 8am Sydney Park Run (clearly the great bridge divide favours more sleep in the south).

The enjoyment of discovering each other’s local Park Run spots soon turned into a curiosity for what other park runs we could discover in our respective vicinities.

Handily enough, Park Run is programmed into Google Maps so it’s as easy as doing a quick ‘search nearby’ to find runs dotted around Sydney. 

Read also: I found a new trail this morning!

Soon we were venturing from Mosman’s Spit West Reserve to Centennial Park’s trails and Dolls Point’s out and back oceanside run.



This local foray into Park Runs around Sydney meant we could also couple the routine of attending weekly runs (to reach the coveted 100) with microadventures around Sydney.

The first time we ventured out to discover the weekly Dolls Point run, it gave us a reason to detour via Oatley Park and spend the full morning outside exploring the Oatley Castle, trailhead, and a field full of kookaburras.

Almost by fluke, it wasn’t until we booked a camping trip to Jervis Bay that we stumbled on the growing trend of ‘Park Run tourism’.

In our attempt to continue coupling the routine of weekly Park Runs with our desire to spend weekends exploring, we found Huskisson’s Park Run a mere ten minutes from our campsite.

So there we stood at 8am, laced up among 159 two legged (and even more four-legged) new friends, ready to explore the unknown route Huskisson would send us on. Our first official ‘Park Run tourism’ adventure.


And turns out we aren’t alone. This local foray into Park Runs around Sydney meant we could also couple the routine of attending weekly runs (to reach the coveted 100) with microadventures around Sydney.

Park Run Tourism is Real

With over 1700 events worldwide and new ones popping up on a regular basis, ‘Park Run tourism’ has emerged as a growing trend of people purposely travelling to discover new Park Run destinations and add another event to their record. You’re considered a Park Run tourist anytime you visit a Park Run that isn’t your local one.


100 Park Runs for One T-Shirt, Rebecca Burton, person, park


For Donal Murphy, a runner living in Ireland who runs the blog ‘Park Run Tourist’ he’s made it his mission to run every Park Run in Ireland – a challenge he’s been working on since 2016. So far he’s completed 146 Park Runs across the Emerald Isle.

Closer to home, there are over 10,000 people in the ‘Aussie parkrun tourism (unofficial)’ Facebook group which helps people find Park Runs for upcoming trips, cheer on others reaching key milestones or simply share photos of recent Park Run tourist trips.

Read more: Best Trail Running in Sydney

But regardless of the location, there’s a sameness to Park Run that makes it familiar no matter where you go – even if you don’t know where the route might take you.

Our post-run chats with the other hot-footers often centred on comparing the features of each new run we visited. How many people were involved? Where did the route start and end?

We’d award points for route variety but marks down for too-early start times. Bonus points for the volunteers who chalked up inspirational messages of encouragement on the pavement ahead of each run to keep us entertained. And proximity to a local coffee shop is always a plus.

As I turned a corner during the Huskisson run, one of the volunteers manning the route cheered us on with a giant, ‘Great job!’. Even as a visiting ‘Park Run tourist’ there’s a sense of camaraderie amongst strangers all trying to achieve the same goal – a weekly 5km, be it a personal best or first time.



Being able to couple this with adventures and still get a coveted 100 run T-shirt? Well, that’s just a bonus.

Despite a recent attempt to go international in our Park Run tourism pursuits, it turns out the Philippines hasn’t jumped on the Park Run train yet.

So our furthest venture to date still remains Huskisson. But we’ll see where 2023 takes us – quite literally – as we eye up this ready-made list, ‘A to Z of Australian Park Runs’ and the 20 we still need to get to in Greater Sydney.

It might take us 250 consecutive Saturdays to get to the highest numbered T-shirt, but the Park Run tourism adventures along the way and make it all the more sweet!