Why Are Women Reluctant to Run? – Experiences of parkrun

“It’s for everybody and anybody, it’s meant to be inclusive.”

Woman pushing child in buggy on a run

Executive Summary

43% of 120,000 parkrunners are female, yet they are more likely to be classified as ‘reluctant runners’ than men.

Through a series of interviews and focus groups with parkrun volunteers and participants this case study sheds light on the motivations and barriers women face in taking part in parkrun on a regular basis.

Report Contents:

  • Barriers and motivations to participation.
  • Interview excerpts.
  • Six suggested interventions.


  • The most positive aspects of parkrun are the friendly atmosphere and positive encouragement from volunteers and spectators.
  • There is concern parkrun is cliquey and  first timers can find this intimidating.
  • The 5km distance is positioned as being for beginners, but some women find this distance challenging.
  • Timed runs suggest parkrun is competitive and this is off-putting for some beginners.
  • The practical elements of parkrun including logistics are unclear.
  • It’s too easy not to turn up.


To encourage women to ‘tip’ into action and experience the benefits of parkrun, the following six interventions were identified:

  • Targeted reminder communications.
  • Targeted social media.
  • First timer information.
  • First timer briefing.
  • Video content.
  • Align to women’s values.



  1. parkrun website