The return of parkrun: what you need to know
The latest regarding the restart of parkrun, support from Lord Sebastian Coe (and others), and potential return dates of the weekly timed event.
Over the last few weeks, parkrun has stormed the media with uncertainty, not only concerning when parkrun will resume in the UK, but whether or not we’ll lose it for good if action is not taken immediately.
The concern arises over the delayed restart of parkrun since the shut down of the event last march due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, although parkrun could potentially have restarted in early June, the permissions from landowners were not looking promising, with approximately half of landowners not agreeing to continue with the event.
Further to this, the situation is made even more difficult due to the increase of public land and parks for outdoor sporting activities, making it potentially more challenging to find suitable land for regular parkrun use.
Many landowners are concerned whether or not it’s entirely legal, not willing to risk a potential fine from the government, or are generally anxious about having hundreds if not thousands of runners in one environment given the current and ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
This article will discuss everything you need to know about the return of parkrun in the UK, including provisional dates, support from the government and other individuals, the drama around land agreements, and more.
The support surrounding the return of parkrun
As previously mentioned, many landowners were (and still are) reluctant to continue their agreement to let parkrun use their land every Saturday (and for some, Sunday for junior parkrun, too).
One of the first to speak out concerning the matter was the world athletics president, Lord Sebastian Coe. In an open letter sourced from the BBC, Coe wrote how “parkrun has been referred to as one of the greatest public health initiatives of the 21st century.” Going on to mention how “as more of everyday life returns, we must not forget about the things that quietly, efficiently (perhaps almost without us noticing) offer some of the greatest benefits of all. Coe stated that if action is not taken now, we risk losing parkrun forever.
Since the overwhelming and much-needed support from the world athletics president, further support has been received, including government backing from the likes of Boris Johnson. In a recent tweet, the Prime Minister stated how “sports and exercise are vital for the nation’s physical and mental health. We are doing everything we can to get @parkrunuk to return as soon as possible.”
Alongside the support of Boris Johnson and Lord Coe, further letters of support were made available from the likes of the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and chief medical officer Sally Davies, among others. Furthermore, a joint letter from the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport (alongside other departments), further addressing the importance of outdoor sporting events and parkrun.
With the current support and shift in attitude, the parkrun community and organisers are increasingly optimistic for a planned restart date of June the 26th, with more updates on the progress to follow. Since the recent support, more landowners have agreed to give the go-ahead for the events, but not all are fully on board, so more work is still underway to ensure a bright future for parkrun.
When is parkrun set to return in the UK?
Originally, parkrun was set to return on the 5th of June in the UK, however, due to issues with landowner permissions, sadly the weekly timed 5k event has been delayed. But don’t fear, with the backing of government support, as aforementioned, the new provisional restart is set for June 26th, so as long as coronavirus restrictions permit and landowners are onboard (which so far, is going well).
To keep up to date with more parkrun news and the return of the weekly timed event, you can follow parkrun on Twitter @parkrunUK, or alternatively visit the news section of their website.
Matthew is an avid runner, freelance writer, Durham University graduate, and the founder of Running101.