The Top 10 Fastest UK Parkruns
Just starting out and wondering which UK Parkruns have the quickest average finish time? And which are the most beginner-friendly? Founder and chief statistician of Athletics Data, Tim Grose has been using the same runner handicap system that’s behind the RunBritain rankings, to calculate the difficulty of every UK Parkrun since 2019.
An athlete himself, Tim uses the Standard Scratch Score (SSS), which is a difficulty score based on how challenging it is to run a quick time on a given race. It’s worked out by studying runners’ times in a race, then comparing those times to their past performances in different races.
All the Parkruns listed below are free to take part in, held every Saturday morning at 9/9.30am and welcome children under the age of eleven, buggies and dogs on a short lead when accompanied by an adult! The runs use Age Grading to measure performance and are community and volunteer-led events that welcome all levels where a post-run coffee is commonplace.
So without further ado, in order of average SSS score, here are the fastest (and easiest) Parkruns in the UK according to Athletics Weekly, and a bit more about each course:
- Berkeley Green (0.48 SSS)
Located by the mouth of the River Severn on the grounds of Berkley’s technology college in Gloucestershire, this Parkrun is entirely on shared tarmac footpaths. It’s a fun and free, volunteer-run, community event which is held every Saturday at 9 am, with coffee in Berkeley Green after. Facilities include free on-site parking, toilets and refreshments.
- Victoria Dock (0.89 SSS)
Held on a footpath that runs around the Royal Docks in Newham, London, this Parkrun by the Thames is held every Saturday at 9 am. It starts at Dock Beach, passes by the Excel building and ends at The Crystal. The nearest tube station is Royal Victoria, there are parking garages a ten-minute walk away and London City Airport is nearby if you felt like flying in. There’s free tea and coffee at the end of each run and The Crystal’s cafe opens at 10 am, selling a variety of speciality blends.
- Aberdeen (1.03 SSS)
This run is held every Saturday at 9.30 am on the Beach Esplanade in Aberdeen. The post-run coffee takes place at The Brig O’Don Pub & Grill. Facilities include a nearby car park and public toilet, but the organisers advise there are no changing or safe-keeping facilities so attendees should come ready to run. The course is run entirely on tarmac with a fantastic view of the sea.
- Pegwell Bay ( 1.18 SSS)
On Saturdays at 9 am this run takes place at Pegwell Bay Country Park, which is a grassy seafront reserve with playground and picnic areas. It’s a 10-minute drive from Ramsgate and facilities include free parking and toilets. The course is run in two laps around the country park on a mixture of gravel trails and off-road. And the post-run coffee takes place at the on-site cafe.
- The Wammy (1.23 SSS)
This Parkrun takes place at The Wammy park and garden in Newcastle-under-Lyme on Saturdays at 9 am. It’s run entirely on tarmac paths and facilities include an on-site car park and children’s play area. The Wammy is a 20-minute walk from the town centre and the post-run coffee takes place at Ken’s Cafe which is a 5-minute walk from the finish.
- Walsall Arboretum (1.24 SSS)
Walsall Arboretum is a historic public park in the West Midlands between Wolverhampton and Birmingham, with formal gardens, a lido and a fitness trail where this Parkrun takes place weekly on Saturdays at 9 am. It’s run on shared tarmac paths around the Victorian area of the park, around the lake, and is generally a flat course. There’s a free car park near the entrance to the grounds and some roadside parking is also available. Other facilities include on-site toilets and a cafe situated in the new visitor centre, where the post-run coffee takes place.
- Isabel Trail (1.26 SSS)
Taking place at Isabel Trail in Stafford, Staffordshire, on Saturdays at 9 am, this Parkrun is run entirely on tarmac paths. The course is an out and back route that starts and finishes nearby Doxey Road. Stafford Rugby Football Club has the closest toilet and car parking facilities – it’s also where the post-run coffee takes place.
- Dulwich (1.27 SSS)
Held Saturdays at 9 am in Dulwich Park, South London, this Parkrun is also run entirely on tarmac footpaths and is just under three laps of the main park carriageway. It’s very smooth throughout and particularly suitable for wheelchair users. The park has bicycles for hire and facilities include a £2 per hour on-site car park, children’s playground and toilets. The post-run coffee takes place at the Dulwich Clock Cafe and the nearest train station is West Dulwich.
- Belfast Victoria (1.31 SSS)
On Saturday’s at 9.30 am this Parkrun takes place at Victoria Park, a waterside park and garden, in Belfast. It’s run on tarmac and trail paths on a route consisting of three outer laps of the lake circumference. There’s limited car parking within the park and the entrance has a height restriction for vehicles, but there is additional off-road parking available by the entrance. Toilet facilities are located in the Bowling Club clubhouse, which is where the post-run coffee takes place.
- Market Rasen Racecourse (1.33 SSS)
Held at the racecourse in Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, this Parkrun is held Saturdays at 9 am and comprises mostly of tarmac paths with a short section of grass at the finish. It follows the slightly undulating service track around the inside rail of the racecourse. Toilets and a children’s play area are located near the grandstand area and there are parking facilities to the right of the main entrance. The post-run coffee takes place in the town centre at Jossal’s Bistro & Coffee Shop.
Do any of these friendly Parkruns catch your eye and take place near you? Hopefully some of these scenic routes, or the idea of bringing along a furry friend or just getting a well-earned Saturday morning coffee afterwards, persuade you to give one a go. Happy running!
Written by – Amy Moretsele