Volunteering is Not Only Giving Something Back, it's Doing Something for Yourself. Living Adventurously 59

Paul Sinton-Hewitt is the founder of Parkrun, the worldwide phenomenon that sees thousands rock up to local parks around the world every Saturday morning to run a timed 5k. Paul began ParkRun at a time when his own life was not going very well. He wanted people to not only run, but mostly join him for coffee afterwards.

Paul Sinton-Hewitt is the founder of Parkrun, the worldwide phenomenon that sees thousands rock up to local parks around the world every Saturday morning to run a timed 5k. Parkrun is a positive, welcoming and inclusive experience where there is no time limit and no one finishes last. Everyone is welcome to come along, whether you walk, jog, run, volunteer or spectate.

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SHOW NOTES

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  • ParkRun: https://www.parkrun.org.uk/
  • https://twitter.com/paulsintonhewit
  • People have even run ParkRun in Antarctica
  • Don't pay a great deal of attention to the figures of ParkRun because it's never really been about the figures.
  • Ambitious to have a ParkRun in every village
  • Motivation has moved towards health and well-being more than sheer running
  • Darren Wood has run almost 800 ParkRuns
  • A few thousand people have done 250 runs
  • Volunteering is not giving something back, it's doing something for yourself
  • When you volunteer you come away energised and feel great
  • The average time for ParkRun is going up - more people are getting involved
  • Trying to take away the barriers so that everyone can get involved
  • 5km for someone who has never done a 5km feels huge. Once you've done it, your perspective changes.
  • For many people ParkRun is the one highlight of their week. They operate on Xmas Day because some people are very lonely that day.
  • Paul began ParkRun at a time when his own life was not going very well. He wanted people to not only run, but mostly join him for coffee afterwards.
  • 13 runners on the first day.
  • 2 prizes that day - for the fastest and for the slowest
  • ParkRun is not a race. It can be a race against yourself.
  • There were volunteers on the first day, so that has been a core part of it ever since. 
  • First ParkRun was at Bushey Park in London
  • He needed community to help his own life - it was a key part of that first event
  • The social communion is vital to ParkRun
  • A well-functioning team can get almost anything done.
  • You don't have to be competent yourself - surround yourself with good people.
  • The first step is the hardest, the decision that "I am going to do this no matter what"
  • In the first 10 years there were many times when he questioned whether it was worth it
  • There are times when you know that what you are standing for is good and proper.
  • Sleeping under the stars - a simple, lovely idea, but there is a lot of resistance. 
  • Paul slept outside his van throughout a tour round France. Loved it.
  • If I planned to create what we've got today I would have failed. 
  • ParkRun has been a step at a time affair.
  • It started gently, under the radar, so he could make mistakes and learn from them
  • Malala - https://malala.org/malalas-story
  • Greta - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMrtLsQbaok
  • You've got to try and live every single day to the fullest - embrace the opportunities that exist and be as happy as you can about everything
  • Very early on I realised my own limitations. I am a generalist. I need specialists around me. 
  • Brought in experts to ParkRun - handed over control of ParkRun UK and then worldwide. Feelings of immense loss.
  • The handover period was unpleasant and uncomfortable, but he knew that the right things were happening.
  • Difference between being inclusive and actively targeting under-represented groups. ParkRun targets disadvantaged communities deliberately and tries to draw people out.
  • ParkRun takes place in prisons
  • Behavioural Insights: things need to be Easy, Attractive, Social and Timely.
  • Everyone is welcome to ParkRun
  • I was not looking for monumental growth. Began with 13. When it got to 100, Paul thought "oh my god!"
  • Didn't ask anyone's permission to begin
  • Good decision in life - try to understand yourself. Be honest about your weaknesses. Then be honest to those you love about your weaknesses. 

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© 2019 Alastair Humphreys