White woman aged 55-65 running

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


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


“It’s for everybody and anybody, it’s meant to be inclusive.”
Katie, mum of two young children

Key findings

  • 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

Download the report