He may have world and Olympic gold medals to his name, but long jumper Greg Rutherford will still be bringing up the rear in this weekend’s Willen Lake parkrun.
However, rather than experiencing a dramatic loss in fitness, the 30-year-old will actually be participating in UK Sport’s #teamparkrun event, acting as the ‘tail walker’, to ensure that – as is the parkrun ethos – no-one finishes last.
On August 19 UK Sport is encouraging National Lottery funded athletes to follow Rutherford’s lead and be a tail walker at their local parkrun as a way of saying thank you to the millions of people who play the National Lottery each week and, in doing so, help fund elite sport in the UK.
Rutherford will be out on the route at 9am on Saturday, and highlighted the difference funding has made to elite sport in the UK.
“When I was a National Lottery funded athlete, up until 2012, it was a hugely important part of my life at that point,” he said.
“It gave me the opportunity to train full time and get to a level that I needed to, to compete.
“It’s the same scenario for those that are funded now. It’s something that really genuinely helps.
“We have a huge advantage across all Olympic sports, in particular, in Great Britain because the funding in a lot of countries is absent.
“We lack in numbers compared to places like China and America, but what we have is a fantastic system of supporting athletes, to get where they need to go.”
Parkrun is a nationwide network of organised, free, 5km timed runs that take place every Saturday morning and encourage anyone, of any ability, to get active – with a volunteer tail walker, such as Page at the rear to ensure no-one finishes last.
And while Rutherford, who was forced to miss the recent World Athletics Championships through injury, has not participated in a parkrun previously, that isn’t to say he does not intend to in the future.
“It’s something I fully expect to get involved with once I retire,” he added.
“I’m quite a big fan of them because you can be as competitive or as uncompetitive as you want to be – you can do it however you like.
“I like the idea of UK Sport and National Lottery trying to push it a bit more and getting us as Olympians and Paralympians involved.
“It should be quite exciting as good for locals and regulars, as well as those newcomers on the day.
“It’s quite an important thing to do. I’ve always been a strong advocate for getting people involved in fitness and health, and parkrun is a really nice way to start that.”
To thank the public for their support through playing The National Lottery, Britain’s top athletes will volunteer as Tail Walkers at parkrun events across the UK on Saturday August 19. Everyone is welcome at parkrun - be part of it! www.teamparkrun.com