First steps towards the return of parkrun to the UK

Resumption of outdoor activities and events across Europe good news for UK parkrunners

While the UK is not likely to be in the fortunate position of New Zealand and welcoming parkrun back to its shores any time soon, the organisation has just announced that detailed planning has now begun in earnest for the day it does.

Global Chief Operating Officer Tom Williams noted yesterday that recent guidance on the return of mass participation and running events recently released by the UK government was a ‘significant step forward’ in facilitating parkrun’s return.

As a result, parkrun has developed a ‘comprehensive “return to parkrun” planning document and risk assessment’. This is the first stage in being able to schedule a return of parkrun events in countries where there remains an underlying level of infection, but where public health guidelines in theory would allow outdoor events to take place.

Williams said that parkrun has now submitted these planning documents and risk assessments to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Williams added: “Whilst our proposals to DCMS acknowledge that some alterations will need to be made to parkrun events, we have been careful to ensure that they remain volunteer-friendly and scalable. And, whilst safety will always be our priority, we are committed to maintaining the low barrier event delivery model and the positive element of human interaction at parkrun events.”

Once those operating plans are reviewed by the DCMS, any adaptations made and volunteers, landowners and other stakeholders happy and supportive, parkrun will be able to move towards fixing a date for return – with one final hurdle.

Although parkrun’s preference has always been for a return to all four nations of the UK at the same time, the increasing divergence in coronavirus legislation, guidance and practice between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland means that it is now ‘increasingly possible’ that there will be a nation-based ‘staggered return’ for the 1000 events enjoyed by the UK's four million parkrunners.

Image courtesy: parkrun UK

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