UK Athletics confirms its backing for parkrun events that are sprouting off across the UK.

It is less than six years since the first parkrun took place on Bushy Park, allowing runners to turn up just before the start and take part in a 5km race.

Early races attracted around a dozen runners, but now more than 500 turn up weekly in Bushy Park, while other local events are held in Kingston, Richmond Park, Wimbledon Common, Roundshaw Downs and Banstead Woods.

“We admire the steps that parkrun is taking to draw a completely new kind of runner into our sport in a simple and safe format”, said Geoff Wightman for runbritain.

“Ultimately, by broadening the sport’s entry level participation base, all events and club membership will benefit.”

Paul Sinton-Hewitt, parkrun founder, said “The UKA affiliation confirms our belief that parkrun provides an excellent platform for grassroots athletics which benefits all levels of the sport.

"In addition to providing a stress-free and safe environment where volunteers can master the various organisational roles, clubs can take advantage of local parkruns to strengthen their membership and the local running community.

“I believe the success of parkrun is due to parkruns being informal, inclusive and free events organised by fantastic local volunteers – parkruns appeal to the novice runner as much as the experienced athlete, bringing participants into exercise and running who wouldn’t have taken part before.

"All of this is possible because of the commercial sponsorship provided by Nike, Sweatshop, Lucozade Sport and The London Marathon”.

There are now 33 weekly events around the UK with around 4,000 runners a week.