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Return of parkrun all set for June 26

Written by 
Published in Athletics
Friday, 11 June 2021 06:06
Popular weekly series of 5km events is ready for comeback after vast majority of landowners give green light

When parkrun returns in the UK on June 26 it will have been 469 days since the events were last held.

It has been a long and frustrating wait and previous plans to get it re-started have struggled due to not enough landowners agreeing for it come back on their patch. However, now more than 500 of the 589 councils and landowners have given parkrun permission for it to resume on Saturday June 26.

This follows a big campaign to put pressure on those landowners and councils who were initially reluctant to give parkrun the green light. The parkrun organisation itself wrote to Boris Johnson recently calling for his Government to put pressure on councils, whereas a sizeable number of articles have appeared in the media supporting the case for its comeback.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe also added his voice to the support by saying parkrun “has become part of the fabric of everyday life”.

Tom Williams, chief operating officer of parkrun, said: “There is now a strong consensus from landowners and public health officials, right across the country, that the return of parkrun – a free-to-access public health initiative – is vital as we look to improve our physical and mental health in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“We would like to place on record our thanks to the hundreds of landowners, directors of public health, the UK Government, parliamentarians from across the political spectrum, the Local Government Association, Sport England, mayors, press and media, public figures, parkrun volunteers, and the wider parkrun community for their incredible efforts during what has undoubtedly been a difficult time.”

Pic: Rebecca Burns

If some but not all parkrun events resumed there was the fear that the active events would get flooded with too many people. Therefore parkrun decided to wait until 80-90% of its events had permission to resume.

Even on Thursday (June 10), around 100,000 of the 160,000 parkrunners in the North East of England, for example, were registered to an event that did not have permission to return. But 24 hours later that number fell to 8000.

Similarly, London now has just short of 40 approvals from 56 events, compared to just three in mid-May.

Williams added: “Following a careful review of the information available, we now have a high degree of confidence that, when events do return, they will be safe, enjoyable, and accessible for all those who wish to take part in social, outdoor, physical activity, with their local community.

“For the remainder of events where we don’t yet have permission in place, we remain committed to doing everything we can to work with local event teams and landowners to see if we can secure the permission needed for their return.”

READ MORE: 10 sessions for a parkrun return

The re-start of parkrun is not absolutely 100% confirmed however as Williams explained: “On Monday, the Prime Minister will be confirming the details and timing of Step 4, and that his announcement may have a material impact on our ability to reopen on 26 June.

“However, we are celebrating today, as we now know that parkrun will return in England before too long, and we cannot wait to see the magic of parkrun enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of participants every week, very soon.”

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