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Slow going for the return of the 5k parkrun in the UK

Early June return for English parkruns unlikely; no date yet set for Scotland, Wales and NI

UK runners looking forward to the return of their local parkruns may have to wait a little longer.

The 5k runs were due to restart in England on 5 June, but that date now looks unlikely.

Essential to the return of the events is the permission of the landowners on whose property the free, timed events are held. 

According to an article in Monday’s Daily Telegraph, out of the 589 venues previously hosting a run, only 110 have granted permission to return on the target date and 250 are yet to reply. More than 30 have said no, with a few of those indicating a return date later in the month might be suitable. The remaining landowners are still considering their positions.  

parkrun has been clear from the start of the pandemic that it needs the go-ahead for the majority of its runs before any wider relaunch, in order to avoid overwhelming those events that are able to proceed.

The organisation has set a deadline of 21 May to receive permissions from the remaining stakeholders in order to be able to stick to their 5 June date.

If that date passes, parkrunners may well find themselves in the bizarre position of being able to eat a jumbo popcorn in a cinema, sink pints in a pub and jet off on holiday – before being able to run in their local park – all after the release of a report confirming the exceptionally small risk to health the events pose and the backing of numerous mental, physical and public health experts.

While parkrun’s return to the other home nations hasn’t progressed as quickly as it has in England, the organisation hopes to be able to announce dates for the return of the junior 2km events to Scotland and Northern Ireland later this week. Junior events have already resumed in Wales and England.

As in England, work to bring back the 5km events continues in the other home nations – centred on the permission of landowners, the concerns of local authorities and the relaxation of devolved coronavirus restrictions.

In a statement yesterday, parkrun said, ‘On this, specifically, we don’t have the clarity we need just yet, but we hope that upcoming announcements will provide us with the information we need to be able to confirm intended restart dates.’

 

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