Only 20 per cent of UK parkrun courses so far given approval for an early June restart

Parkrun UK this week revealed that only 20 per cent of their events have been given approval for a June 5 restart.

Thursday, 13th May 2021, 9:11 am
Portsmouth Lakeside parkrunners. Picture: Keith Woodland

The organisation has written to local landowners seeking permission to restart the popular Saturday morning 5K runs.

Parkrun events have been halted since the initial pandemic lockdown in March 2020. Locally, there are courses in Havant, Portsmouth Lakeside Southsea, Lee-on-the-Solent, Whiteley and Fareham.

But only Lakeside appeared on the list of 125 courses - out of 600 contacted - released by parkrun UK two days ago that have been granted approval to return early next month.

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There is positive news about the Fareham and Lee events, though.

Fareham parkrun event director, Andrew Smith, is hopeful of a return at the Cams Hall Estate course.

He said: 'In terms of Fareham parkrun, not very much has changed. We’ve spoken to the pub (Cams Mill) who actually own the land we run on and they’re quite happy to see us again.

‘We kind of feel we’re in a good place locally but we want to do what the rest of parkrun does,

‘If they decide to go later (June 26 restart) we’ll obviously hang on until then.

‘But we’re planning to go from June 5 and even run a test event prior to that to make sure everything goes okay.'

The neighbouring Lee course are also hopeful of a positive response to returning from next month.

Gosport Borough Council have already cleared the return of junior parkruns on the Marine Parade East route they take. The Stokes Bay junior parkrun restarts this coming Sunday.

Lee event director Maggie Atkinson remains optimistic the senior event will also be permitted to return from June 5.

She said: 'We’ve just had permission from Gosport Borough Council to go ahead with our junior parkruns. This Sunday will be our first one back. It comes under the same council so we’re positive we’re going to get some good news.

‘We’re just waiting at this moment in time but there shouldn’t be a problem with Lee.'

Parkrun are currently working towards Friday, May 21 to make a decision on whether events can resume from Saturday, June 5.

Nick Pearson, parkrun Global CEO, believes the return of parkruns can have a positive impact on people’s mental and physical health.

‘The benefits, particularly now, of getting active, together, far outweigh the close-to-zero risk of virus transmission in outdoor settings,’ he said. ‘As we look toward the summer, it is vital that we do everything we can to welcome back parkrun events and get the nation back on its feet, positively impacting the health and happiness of ourselves, our friends, our family, and those around us.’

Dame Sally Davies, former Chief Medical Officer for England, added: ‘Parkrun communities should take confidence from the findings that walking, running, jogging or volunteering at parkrun is likely to be very safe.

‘Now, more than ever, we need parkrun to improve our nation’s public health and happiness.

‘Our wellbeing, physical health and mental health depend on us being active and being together, in line with the government’s guidelines and parkrun’s Covid-19 Framework.’

The News has contacted Whiteley, Havant and Southsea parkruns for a response.