United Kingdom

Parkrun won't return to England until at least July 24, organisers say 

Parkrun events will not return in England until at least July 24 after the Government postponed the lifting of pandemic restrictions, organisers said.

The free 5km Saturday morning runs were due to restart on Saturday June 5 before issues around accessing running spaces pushed their return to June 26.

Parkrun UK said in a statement on Monday evening: 'A huge amount of work has been done in recent weeks to ensure we have permission to return from the large majority of landowners.

'Whilst this delay is disappointing, we respect the fact that a significant number of these permissions were contingent on the country moving into Step 4, and we will therefore target a new reopening date of Saturday 24 July.'

Parkrun events will not return in England until at least July 24 after the Government postponed the lifting of pandemic restrictions, organisers said (previous park run in Hyde Park, Leeds, pictured)

Organisers had previously said the decision to proceed with events from June 26 was subject to any changes in the road map announced by Boris Johnson.

It comes after Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden wrote to all councils in the UK last month urging them to permit weekly Parkrun events to resume in their areas.

Their letter pointed out how vital physical activity is to the public's mental health.  

'Parkrun is enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people each weekend and these hugely popular free events are much loved by communities up and down the country,' they said.

'We appreciate the pressures that local authorities are under in ensuring requests for organised outdoor sports, such as Parkrun, are carefully considered and run safely.'

They added: 'Organised outdoor sport is exempt from legal gathering limits and can take place with any number of participants, as long as it is undertaken in line with published Covid-secure guidance.'

The free 5km Saturday morning runs were due to restart on Saturday June 5 before issues around accessing running spaces pushed their return to June 26 (previous park run in Hyde Park, Leeds, pictured)

Mr Jenrick, MP for Newark in Nottinghamshire, and Mr Dowden, MP for Hertsmere in Hertfordshire, said public concern about delays to Parkrun 'highlights how important these events are to people across the country'. 

Around 150 landowners, including a number of local authorities, had initially either refused permission for Parkrun to return, or ignored correspondence from the organisers, the letter said.

It added: 'Parkrun needs approximately 80 per cent of Parkruns to be allowed to go ahead to prevent people travelling across the country from areas without a Parkrun operating, to ones which are.' 

Overall in the UK there are 716 adult Parkrun events and 325 junior versions, which together attracted an average of 200,000 participants a week before the pandemic. 

Olympic champions Sir Mo Farah and Dame Kelly Holmes have been known to take part, as have Good Morning Britain presenters Ben Shephard and Susanna Reid, BBC newsreader Sophie Raworth, snooker star Ronnie O'Sullivan and McFly's Harry Judd. 

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