Considering how many people turned to running during lockdown, it’s been a crying shame that the wonderfully social and welcoming weekly parkrun had to be put on hiatus. The parkrun formula is a 5K beginning at 9am every Saturday at hundreds of locations around the UK. The event is free and can be walked, jogged or run; you can take it seriously, signing up and printing off a barcode so your time logged, or just turn up and enjoy a Saturday morning moving in the open air with others.
Its absence has been keenly felt, but as the COVID-19 situation continues to improve in the UK, parkrun is planning its comeback. Yesterday, an announcement on the parkrun blog (opens in new tab) revealed that all the landowners where the 589 English parkruns are held have received official requests to allow parkrun to begin again on Saturday 5th June.
While parkrun is committed to returning in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (and worldwide), current restrictions mean there’s no firm date in place for their locations yet.
The letter, which you can read on a public Google document (opens in new tab), lays out in detail the evidence parkrun and the government have analysed leading to the conclusion that it’s safe for parkrun to return. That evidence includes a parkrun-commissioned report (opens in new tab) that modelled the risk of transmission specifically at parkrun events. The two-word takeaway is that parkrun is “very safe”.
Report author Professor Clive Beggs, an expert in the transmission and control of infectious disease, commented: “Our analysis was undertaken using COVID-19 prevalence levels for March 2021, and the results revealed that parkrun events are likely to be very safe. This finding appears to be supported by the evidence from the various road races that have been held around the world during the pandemic, which have been characterised by a noticeable lack of infectious outbreaks. Based on this, it would seem to me that running events are probably already safe in the UK, and getting safer every day as prevalence falls and the vaccine rollout continues.”
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In an email to signed-up parkrunners, founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt emphasised how important it is for all parkruns to open at once, to avoid the chances of a select few being overrun. Sinton-Hewitt also encouraged everyone to do whatever they can to press landowners to grant permission for parkrun’s return as soon as possible.
Visit parkrun’s event map (opens in new tab) to find your local event and drop them an email if you’d like to help. You can also often find your local event on your social media network of choice and contact them that way.
Jonathan Shannon has been the editor of the Coach website since 2016, developing a wide-ranging experience of health and fitness. Jonathan took up running while editing Coach and has run a sub-40min 10K and 1hr 28min half marathon. His next ambition is to complete a marathon. He’s an advocate of cycling to work and is Coach’s e-bike reviewer, and not just because he lives up a bit of a hill. He also reviews fitness trackers and other workout gear.
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