It’s 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning, and already there’s footsteps approaching the calm and tranquil riverside of Futako-Tamagawa. A multitude of people in both sports attire and casual outfits, some walking dogs or with their kids in strollers, gather at the riverbank of Futakotamagawa Park in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward for parkrun. As the event’s name suggests, parkrun is a 5-kilometer walking and running event held in a park. But what makes parkrun unique is its inclusiveness, internationality and its locality.

Unlike a typical running event, there’s no entrance fee, time limit or age restriction. From athletes to amateurs, seniors to children, all are welcome. Parkrun originally launched in London’s Bushy Park in 2004, and caught on in Japan in April of last year in cooperation with Sumitomo Life Insurance Company. Parkrun has now spread to 22 countries around the globe including the United States, South Africa, New Zealand and Finland. Having its roots abroad, there is an international feel to the starting line.

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