Case Study: Why Are Women Reluctant to Run? - Experiences of parkrun - Women In Sport

Case Study: Why Are Women Reluctant to Run? – Experiences of parkrun

Published 2017

“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


Related Articles

Research Report: The Ideal Sports Club For Women

Published 2011 Released under our former name, Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation, this research was conducted by Verve to identify factors that create the ideal sports club environment for women.    

More Info