UK Parkrun update – 30 April
As we move through the reopening process for parkrun and junior parkrun, we are publishing a UK-specific update every Friday to keep ambassadors, event teams, parkrun communities, and landowners informed on our progress.
With significant publicity this week around the planned return of our 5k events in England on Saturday 5 June, interest in the current situation across the other home nations has increased. We are working closely with local and national stakeholders across Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and hope soon to be in a position to announce more positive news relating to those regions soon.
As mentioned in previous updates, the countdown continues to our first Welsh junior parkrun returning on Sunday 9 May. And recent changes in respective roadmaps suggest Scotland and Northern Ireland aren’t too far behind.
Infection levels continue to fall across all of the United Kingdom (prevalence in England is now down to 1 in 1,010 people) and at the same time, the vaccination programme moves on at pace with over 34 million people now having received at least one dose of vaccine. All of this gives us great optimism that a return of parkrun events across all of the UK isn’t too far away.
5k parkrun in England
On Tuesday, we wrote to all landowners of our 5k parkrun events in England, with a request to return on Saturday 5 June. We’d urge everyone to read that letter as it contains a clear and concise justification for parkrun’s return, alongside links to the significant evidence-base behind our position, our COVID-19 Framework, and a letter of support from the Minister for Sport.
The response has been incredible, and at the time of writing this update (just 72 hours since we contacted landowners) we already have 76 events with complete landowner permission to return, a full list is available here. We really do appreciate this incredible support, and have been publicly thanking and celebrating those landowners via the parkrun UK Twitter feed.
Unfortunately however, at a local level, we are already experiencing significant issues relating to delayed responses, unreasonable bureaucracy, and unnecessary red tape. Whilst we completely understand that landowners are under incredible pressure right now, and directors of public health are doing everything they can to keep their communities safe, it’s extremely frustrating that other businesses, activities, and sports, are simply able to return based on a nationally approved date. Yet, despite overwhelming evidence that parkrun events are amongst the safest activities people can participate in, with one of the highest benefits to public health, we are faced with challenges based on opinion rather than evidence.
If we are unable to overcome those challenges, parkrun will not be able to return in England.
It is critical that by Friday 21 May (two weeks before our planned return) we achieve permission for the large majority of our events to return. Our staff and volunteers are working incredibly hard to that effect, however there is significant work ahead of us if we are to achieve our goal.
Going forward we will be publishing regular updates relating to the number of landowners who have granted permission, and the number who haven’t. And whilst we know that some people would favour a softer more patient approach, the future of all parkrun events is at stake, and so we must do everything we can to ensure the organisation survives and that our events return.
On Sunday mornings, across England, we continue to go from strength to strength. Last Sunday saw 106 junior parkrun events take place, with 8,000 children taking part and 2,500 volunteering. Another 28 will restart this coming weekend, taking the total number of live junior parkrun events in England to 134, with another 35 with restart dates over the following weeks.
Thanks so much for your continued support.
Chief Operating Officer