Vhi has signed a five year partnership to support and expand the parkrun movement in Ireland. Based originally and through its early growth phase on volunteerism and the support of local authorities and Healthy Ireland, the sponsorship and appellation as a ‘presenting partner’ is the first of its kind internationally.
The new partnership will support the continued growth of new parkrun events around the country and the development of junior parkrun, which are 2k runs for 4 – 14 year olds. There are currently 55 weekly park run events taking place around the country but only four with the junior version and that is a major growth target in 2017.
“We are very pleased to announce this partnership with Vhi,” said Matt Shields, parkrun Ireland country manager.
“Both Vhi and parkrun are not for profit entities that promote healthy lifestyles, so our objectives and goals are complimentary.”
Around 5,000 people of every age and ability take part each week in the runs, organised by more than 600 volunteers every weekend.
In 2015 Healthy Ireland made an investment of €100,000 in the initiative, assisting in the expansion of 29 runs as existed at the time.
In total almost 80,000 registered participants have run more than 2.5 million kilometres at parkrun Ireland events since it started here in November 2012.
Originally launched in the UK in 2004, parkrun is the single biggest participation running event globally with nearly three million registered participants and an average of 165,000 weekly participants.
There were howls of protest earlier this year when a local authority in the UK made a decision to charge participants £1 for using public park facilities. The movement has grown so big now that there is a significant cost borne by councils in terms of the extra numbers at very specific times.
Vhi has a long history of supporting activities that promote healthy lifestyles and is title sponsor of the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon, the biggest event of its kind in the world attracting over 35,000 participants annually.
It is clearly a space which works from a health insurance perspective as Irish Life Health have continued the original relationship between Athletics Ireland and GloHealth since taking over the company this year.
“We are absolutely delighted to announce this new partnership with parkrun and we know that both organisations have strong similarities that will lead to an excellent working relationship,” said Declan Moran, Director Marketing & Business Development at Vhi.
“We are both committed to helping our members live longer, healthier, more positive lives and this partnership will enable us to do just that. There is no other movement like parkrun in Ireland and Vhi is very proud to be supporting this wonderful initiative encouraging people of all levels and abilities to take part in a free 5k run in a fun and positive environment.”
“The health benefits, both physical and mental, associated with running are unparalleled. We look forward to working with the parkrun team to help them grow this fantastic movement while also supporting people across Ireland get out and get active.”
“Our role as presenting partner is to provide the investment and support necessary to grow parkrun and help them fulfil their mission of having an event in every community in Ireland. We are very excited about supporting the fledgling junior parkrun movement and ensuring that children have the opportunity to develop a love for running at a young age. Studies have shown the benefits of developing healthy, active lifestyles when young and the fact that habits formed in our childhood can have lasting benefits for the rest of our lives.”