Return of popular parkrun is delayed

The return of the running events held on Saturday mornings at venues such as Wicksteed Park and Irchester Country Park has been put on hold.

Parkrun UK has announced that it has been forced to delay the planned reopening of 5k events in England on Saturday, June 5.

Although more than 250 events do have landowner permission to return, including the ones staged at the Racecourse in Northampton, Wicksteed Park in Kettering, West Glebe Park in Corby and Irchester Country Park, this falls far short of the critical mass needed to prevent overwhelming those that have been given the go ahead.

With more than three million registered parkrunners across England, and around 300,000 people taking part on a typical weekend, opening a small subset of parkruns is not viable.

In ongoing discussions, where landowners were withholding permission, parkrun organisers sought clarification on whether permission would be granted for a later date.

With a number of landowners responding positively, parkrun UK is now targeting Saturday, June 26 to resume all 5k events across England. A decision will be made regarding the go ahead for this new date on Friday, June 11.

Parkrun Global CEO Nick Pearson said: “We will continue to work hard with landowners over the coming weeks to secure the permissions needed to return at the end of June.

“We are incredibly grateful to all of the landowners who have granted events permission to return so far, and for the groundswell of support for parkrun over recent days.

“Although it is disappointing not to be able to return on June 5, we are still optimistic that we can return parkrun events to nearly 600 communities across England very soon. We will do everything we can to ensure events restart on June 26.”

The three-week delay comes as many permission requests got caught up in unnecessary red tape and lengthy internal bureaucracy at a local level, despite widespread support nationally from the UK government, MPs on both sides of Parliament, DCMS and Sport England; and amidst a changing lockdown landscape across the UK that this week saw the reopening of pubs, restaurants and other indoor hospitality.

Permissions must increase significantly between now and the new targeted restart. parkrun has had legal permission to return from March, as part of Step One of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

Operating under a government approved COVID-19 Framework, and with significant success restarting the junior 2k event series, as well as the vital need for people to be active and social outdoors, organisers believe the time is now right for the return of Saturday morning 5k events.