Richmond Park in winter

Club athletes & group runners have itchy feet...

...and gym bunnies are hopping mad, too!

As we run headlong into Lockdown 2.0 in England, the sport's governing body has reacted quickly and issued a powerful joint appeal together with British Cycling and British Triathlon to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to permit certain sports activities to continue during the new lockdown period from today (Thursday 5 November).

The letter highlights the outdoor nature of athletics and running; the huge efforts made to promote COVID-secure training; the positive benefits of engaging in physical sports training and the potential harm to mental health and wellbeing of a winter lockdown.    

The joint letter, co-signed by England Athletics Chief Executive Chris Jones, referenced Sport England’s latest Active Lives figures, published last month, which showed that from mid-March to mid-May, numbers participating in running, athletics and multi-sport activity rose from 7.3million to 7.5million.

It highlighted that since June: “…we have, largely thanks to the work of volunteers, been able to reintroduce group runs, club activity, adapted competitions and coaching sessions, and given that all activities take place outdoors, participants are able to maintain appropriate social distancing at all times and we believe that the risk of transmission through taking part is limited.”

The letter also raises concerns that some newcomers to the sport may give up due to a lack of confidence or lost motivation while recognising that all sport has far-reaching responsibilities by adding: “We know that sport must play its part in this national effort, and we fully accept that as governing bodies we must play our part while the rest of the country is being asked to make such enormous sacrifices in their own lives. However, we also believe that we have a duty to enable people to lead healthy, active lives during this period of extreme mental toil – particularly when, as we have demonstrated over the course of this year, it can be done safely.”

Meanwhile, UKactive – representing more than 3,500 organisations from the full spectrum of the fitness and leisure sector – has released data that shows there have been more than 22 million visits since gyms and leisure centres reopened in England and the COVID-19 rate was just 0.34 per 100,000 visits between 25th July and 13th September, resulting in several huge petitions to Government to keep these facilities open during lockdown. 

So, athletes in England have itchy feet and gym bunnies are hopping mad! 

Let's hope Lockdown 2.0 is both effective and time-limited so we can look forward to a rather different 2021.  

Image from Richmond Park in winter by Fil Mazzarino on Unsplash

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