Lost and found: parkrun, work and identity

Russell Warhurst, Kate Black*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This article develops new understandings of the weekly mass participation running event, parkrun. The popularity of parkrun has been understood in terms of counteracting sedentary lives and obesity and offering mental-health benefits. However, in view of critical accounts of running in general, a more nuanced inquiry was pursued through examining parkrun in the broader context of runners’ lives, particularly their occupations. Managers and professionals formed an exemplifying occupational group. Changes in managers’ and professionals’ work have brought to the fore characteristics of contemporary work more generally such as performativity and insecurity. Data was generated from parkrunners through an artefact prompted conversational method and as the inquiry was insider-research, so the auto-ethnographic influences on the research are critically examined. Visual and narrative findings from parkrunners are presented and interpreted through a social-constructionist identity lens. The distinctive theoretical contribution of this inquiry is to provide a more detailed discussion of identity than is the norm in the field, and to show how running, like work, could structurally regulate identities but how running also offered scope for agentic identity-work. The results show that a desired sense-of-self was unlikely to be derived from occupations whereas parkrun provided an additional identity dimension and enabled the construction of a more positive and satisfying sense-of-self.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-412
Number of pages16
JournalQualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health
Issue number3
Early online date27 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2022


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