Organisers of global running phenomenon parkrun have stated an intention for the event to return in England on June 5.
Parkrun, the free 5k Saturday-morning event which has revolutionised grassroots running since its launch in 2004, has not been held anywhere in any of the home nations since the first coronavirus lockdown was called in March 2020.
Other events have returned at various locations around the world but, with England now having a road map out of the latest restrictions, parkrun bosses have laid out their own plans to give hope to thousands of domestic runners.
Global chief operating officer Tom Williams told the Free Weekly Timed podcast that parkrun could have returned sooner than the planned date, but caution was being applied.
“Clearly, I don’t think many people would disagree, it would be inappropriate at the very beginning of April which is only a few weeks away, for a couple of thousand people to be gathered etc, big crowds of adults would not be acceptable in just a few weeks’ time,” he said, adding there were plans for parkrun’s junior event to return on April 11.
“We don’t think it’d be the right thing at that point. We don’t think it would be appropriate to bring 5k parkrun back as part of Step One in the roadmap; Step Two comes in quite soon after that, and again, a thousand people in a park wouldn’t feel particularly right with the limitations around weddings and funerals.
“However, on May 17, when we hope Step Three will start, there’s a real step change in what people can and can’t do and part of that is outdoor events with up to 4,000 people. What we also want to see is other types of events, festivals, concerts, whatever it might be, operating at bigger numbers to make people feel more comfortable about parkrun.
“Step Three is where we feel it would be most appropriate for 5k parkrun to come back in England. The first Saturday is the 22nd of May but Step Three may not be confirmed until the 10th of May and we feel that 12-day gap is a bit small if we have to alter things.
With exercise and wellbeing prominent conversation points throughout the year-long pandemic, Williams has urged caution but knows how morale-boosting his announcement could be.
He added: “I’m not going to get carried away until we’re stood on the start line but there is a date. Having a date, and we know it’s not guaranteed, but having a date in the roadmap really lifts your spirits and gives you an inkling of when we might be back to normal which is what so many people want.”