Couch to 5k an overwhelming success at Newport parkrun

As the Event Director of Newport parkrun, there’s nothing better to see than the emotional highs of participants as they improve whether it’s running all 5km, achieving a “PB” (personal best time) or even being part of the volunteer team doing a new job. But nothing could have quite prepared me for the response to our latest Couch to 5k programme.


It was back in 2014 when we launched the first wave of this 9 week scheme promoted by the NHS, by including one of the 3 weekly sessions inside the parkrun and the two other weekly sessions being led by local running clubs.  Back then we had about 20 beginners. Now in our 7th wave, our anticipated number of newcomers on 9th January 2016 was 100 -150 based on its steady growth in popularity.

So, we worked out a system of splitting new arrivals into three ability groups; those having a basic level of fitness e.g. gym membership, regular walkers etc, those who never excise routinely and those that “don’t know”. Supporting were members of Lliswerry Runners and Caerleon Running Club lead by members of the two coaching teams.

I am really glad we got prepared. We stopped counting at 399 beginners!

Since then the groups have progressed marvellously to such an extent that by the 3rd week we encouraged all groups to continue to walk/run to the finish. Afterwards, someone told me of a lady in tears on the finish line because she was so proud of her achievement of completing 5km. Our next aim is to get them running the complete 5k, which is the aim by the end of the 9th week. I can’t bear to think of their emotions when that happens!

So if you feel the urge to get running this spring, there’s no easier way than to try a Couch to 5k programme with some mates. The opportunities are endless with many parkruns and social running groups offering the the chance to get active through the Couch to 5k programme. So why not check out your local parkrun and see what opportunities are there for you, and you may meet lots of new mates too!

Chris Davies

Event Director – Newport parkrun

Volunteer Lead Ambassador for parkrun in Wales

Chair & Coach for Lliswerry Runners