ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- Summer 2023 is not over quite yet. As Fall creeps in, a worldwide organization called Park Run, debuted their community based 5K in Elmira. The program looks to inspire all of its participants by making the weekly event free, untimed, and fun by letting participants choose their pace

The first-ever winner in Park Run's history for New York State is Michelle Bourdette, "I'm the first place runner."

Park Run is focused on building an inclusive program where people can show up to any run, worldwide whenever, they have a free Saturday. Among the two thousand communities participating, Elmira is the 63rd community in the United States.

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Michelle put her passion for running on pause. Now she is tying up her laces and relaunching her love for the sport.

"I've kind of slacked off, but you know, I wanna get back into it, so why not start here," Bourdette explained.

Director of Park Run Elmira, Rob Toonkel is not new to running. Toonkel has completed 508 marathons and he wants to inspire others to live a happy and healthy lifestyle.

"One of my goals was after I reached my goal of 500 marathons to do more race directing and bringing things to the community rather than just being a participant in a race," shared Rob Toonkel.

When participants register they receive a barcode band. The band can be scanned at any Park Run event, and it logs the events attended, and stats from each event. 

A second goal, Park Run wants all of its participants to not feel rushed to cross the finish line. No matter who you are, or how long each event takes, participants will never finish last. 

"I am a follow-up person, volunteer. So, I am the last one around the course, to make sure everyone is back safe."

Park Run has volunteers who stay at the tail end, for safety and to guarantee no registered participants ever come in "last." 

"We all head out at the same time, obviously at 66 I'm a little slower. I let the fast ones go first. I do a run, walk interval and I am usually last. But it's okay with me because you only lose when you don't finish," emphasized Eranest.

New York State will host Elmira's division of Park every Saturday unless weather is a concern. This is not a one-time event, so come to any, every, or some of the local weekend runs. Park Runs information is available here.