Parkrun has announced that it will not be restarting its popular events in October as it had hoped.
Hundreds of people take part in weekly parkruns in Armley Park and Bramley Park with a 5km run, jog or walk over a measured course each Saturday morning.
Events were cancelled back in March as lockdown took effect, but outdoor sport, including running, has gradually been opening up over the summer. National organisers had been working on how to make events Covid secure and had hoped to restart by the end of October.
However, in a statement they confirmed that the Government’s announcement meant that plans were back on hold. Nick Pearson, parkrun’s Chief Executive Officer said:
“WE KNOW THAT MANY PEOPLE WILL BE DISAPPOINTED TO HEAR THIS NEWS, AND THAT IT IS LIKELY TO ADD FURTHER TO EXISTING ANXIETIES AND FRUSTRATIONS. PLEASE DO KNOW THAT WE WILL CONTINUE DOING EVERYTHING WE CAN TO SUPPORT OUR PARKRUN FAMILY, AND WE REMAIN COMMITTED TO REOPENING PARKRUN EVENTS AS SOON AS CIRCUMSTANCES ALLOW AND LOCAL STAKEHOLDERS ARE COMFORTABLE.
Parkruns were supposed to reopen by the end of October but this will no longer be happening. Mr Pearson added:
“Whilst we reluctantly accept this reality, parkrun’s absence will come at a cost. As we head into winter and face the many associated seasonal health issues (both in terms of COVID-19 and other mental and physical illnesses), we believe parkrun has an incredibly important role to play in supporting public health. We also strongly believe that, as existing and emerging evidence suggests, and contrary to popular opinion, that there is little or nominal risk of COVID-19 transmission at outdoor physical activity events such as parkrun. Increasingly, we are seeing outbreaks traced to indoor work and social environments, yet to date there is little if any evidence of outbreaks directly resulting from participation in outdoor physical activity events.
“The health of our nation is facing its greatest challenge in decades, inequalities are increasing, and disadvantaged communities are suffering disproportionately. It is absolutely critical therefore that decisions to restrict activities, particularly where there is a demonstrable public health benefit, are based on robust evidence. And whilst caution should always be taken, where evidence is lacking it should be rapidly developed such that where risk is sufficiently low, activities can be supported to return.
“It is essential that, as we map out the coming weeks and months of our collective efforts to get back on our feet, we look beyond baseless assumptions and a culture of fear, and move toward evidence-based interventions. We must act now if we are to avoid irreparable damage to the health and happiness of our communities.”